Sep 21, 2021 - News

D.C. eviction help isn’t coming fast enough

Average estimated household rent debt in D.C. region
Data: National Equity Atlas; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The D.C. area is much deeper in the hole than the rest of the nation when it comes to rental debt, putting thousands across the region at risk of losing their homes.

  • The average American household behind on rent owes about $2,552, according to census data analyzed by National Equity Atlas.
  • Compare that to D.C. ($3,400); Prince George's County ($3,700); or the eye-popping figure for Arlington ($5,000).

Why it matters: D.C. saw a spike in evictions last week, even though city leaders have enacted a phased approach to the end of the eviction ban.

  • D.C. renters with pre-pandemic eviction notices don't have the same protections as tenants who missed payments once COVID hit. Landlords can't file to evict the latter group until Oct. 12.

"We are expecting a big uptick," said Joel Cohn with the D.C. Office of the Tenant Advocate, which reported 36 evictions last week. 

  • Last week, the city spent more than $175,000 to prevent 12 evictions, the Department of Human Services told Axios.

Zoom out: Evictions are slowly restarting as well in Montgomery County.

  • The county’s rental relief fund has over $40 million, but a "course correction" is needed to deliver aid faster, according to At-Large council member Evan Glass.
  • "The overwhelming majority of those who have requested rental assistance are residents of color who are either working hourly wage jobs or remain unemployed because of the impact of COVID," Glass said.

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