Aug 5, 2020 - Politics & Policy

23 million Americans face eviction

Natasha Blunt of New Orleans, who is at risk of eviction.

Natasha Blunt of New Orleans, who is at risk of eviction. Photo: Dorthy Ray/AP

The coronavirus pandemic threatens America with a new wave of homelessness due to a cratering economy, expiring unemployment stimulus payments and vanishing renter protections.

What they're saying: "I've never seen this many people poised to lose their housing in such a short period of time," said Bill Faith of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio to AP.

The big picture: 23 million Americans are at risk of eviction and exposure to the shelter system during a pandemic, the AP reports, citing the Aspen Institute.

  • The latest Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey found last week that more than 26.5% of American adults 18 or older questioned whether they would be able to make last month's rent or mortgage payment or had little or no confidence they could pay next month, the AP notes.

Many lower-income Americans initially got by on credit cards and stimulus checks, National Apartment Association CEO Bob Pinnegar told Axios' Kim Hart.

  • Now those options are gone. "The hole that they're getting in from a financial standpoint is going to take years for them to dig out of, if they ever can."

Among those seeking help is Natasha Blunt of New Orleans, who could be evicted from her two-bedroom apartment where she lives with her two grandchildren, the AP reports.

  • Blunt owes thousands in back rent after she lost her banquet porter job. She has yet to receive her stimulus check and has not been approved for unemployment benefits. Her family is getting by with food stamps and the charity of neighbors.
  • "I can't believe this happened to me because I work hard," said Blunt, whose eviction is at the mercy of the federal moratorium protecting low-income renters, which expired in July. "I don't have any money coming in. I don't have nothing. I don't know what to do . ... My heart is so heavy."

The bottom line: "The whole purpose of the eviction moratorium [was] a stop-gap measure," Alieza Durana from Eviction Lab at Princeton told the "Axios Re:Cap" podcast.

  • "Do they have money for rent, money for food or health care, that sort of thing — that is a separate but overlapping issue."

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