Time is running out for America’s most vulnerable renters

Time is running out for America’s most vulnerable renters

America’s renters are rapidly approaching a cliff. The federal eviction protections put in place in response to massive pandemic-related job losses are set to expire at the end of August and some state and local protections are already expiring, with eviction proceedings resuming in several states. In addition, the temporary CARES Act boost to unemployment insurance benefits ends by July 31 even though millions of people are still out of work and struggling to pay rent.

The United States is heading rapidly toward an eviction crisis. More federal funding — coupled with state and local policy action — are needed to ensure renters can keep their homes in the months ahead.
An eviction crisis isn’t new for the United States. Even before the pandemic, there wasn’t a single county in the nation that had enough affordable housing to meet the needs of households living close to the poverty line. Landlords were filing more than two million eviction notices each year. Renters of color were already more likely than white renters to have high rent burdens, to be threatened with eviction and to experience homelessness. And now they are more likely to experience housing hardships due to Covid-19. The existing rental assistance safety net — a web of programs provided at the state and local levels with a mix of public and philanthropic funds — is not equipped to support a massive influx of families in crisis because of Covid-19.
Congress acted quickly at the start of the pandemic, but the CARES Act was designed for a short-term crisis. It did not provide funding that matches the scale of need. Nor did it create long-term housing counseling resources to help renters and landlords avoid evictions when payments are missed.

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