More than 40 Percent of Renters Are at Risk of Eviction

July 28, 2020

Last Friday, a federal moratorium on evictions for tenants in government-assisted housing expired. With eviction moratoriums in many states also at an end, experts fear that millions of Americans could be kicked out of their homes in the coming months. According to one estimate, as many as 40 million people could be evicted during the pandemic. “It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen,” said John Pollock of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel.

Mass unemployment as a result of the coronavirus has put more than 40 percent of American renters at risk of eviction. Some states are worse off than others: in West Virginia, nearly 60 percent of renters could soon be evicted compared to 22 percent in Vermont. People of color are also disproportionately vulnerable to eviction. According to a recent survey, only 26 percent of black tenants said they feel confident that they will be able to pay their rent while half of Hispanic renters said they had no confidence that they will be able to remain in their homes. 

“We know evictions have always had a disproportionate impact on tenants of color due to discrimination and lack of wealth,” said Pollock. “But when you look at this gap between people who can pay their rent and people who can’t, it’s almost hard to put into words how bad the inequality will become absent some major intervention.” With extended unemployment benefits also set to expire by the end of the month, legislators are debating about expanding aid once again but have yet to reach an agreement. 

Questions:

  1. Why are millions of American renters at risk of eviction? 
  2. Should the federal government extend eviction moratoriums and unemployment benefits? Why or why not?

Source: Annie Nova, “How the Eviction Crisis Across the U.S. Will Look,” CNBC, July 27, 2020.

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