Research looking at what happened in some areas when eviction protections lapsed during the pandemic found that those lapses caused up to 433,700 additional COVID-19 cases and 10,700 deaths.
Housing advocates say that the extended eviction protections, though welcome, don’t go far enough. Landlords can often find ways around the moratorium, including but not limited to forcing renters out when their leases end and calling it a refusal to renew a lease rather than an eviction for unpaid rent. In Arizona, some landlords who took rental assistance nonetheless filed thousands of eviction notices. And renters have to actively invoke the protections by filling out a form from the CDC website and signing it, under penalty of perjury, saying that they have earned less than $99,000 (or, for couples filing jointly, $198,000) or received a stimulus check, that they can’t fully pay the rent for specific reasons, are trying to pay the rent as much as possible, and would be rendered homeless by eviction.
Even the arrival of government assistance won’t be enough for some renters. For one thing, some landlords refuse to accept rental assistance. For another, at least the past round of assistance was geared not to the number of renters in a state but to the number of people. Louisiana was getting $500 per renter while Wyoming got nearly $3,000.
Around 20% of renters in a March survey told the Census Bureau they hadn’t paid the previous month’s rent, but it was 33% for Black renters—in line with research finding that Black and Latino households were most likely to be cost burdened by rent before the pandemic, paying more than 30% of their income for housing. That disparate financial pressure has only increased during the pandemic, with Black and Latino renter households being more likely to have lost income than white or Asian households.
Help is on the way to many renters, between the eviction moratorium and the housing assistance coming from the federal government. But people have to know what they’re eligible for and have the resources to access it—when you’re on the brink of eviction, just printing out a page from the CDC website can be a major lift. This crisis is not over.