245,999 Evictions Have Been Filed During the Pandemic, Despite the Moratorium

illegal evictions

Let That Sink In.

At the time of this writing, the total number of filed evictions was 245,999. That number continues to escalate.

This is an American travesty. It’s important to note that this number reflects only five of the states in our nation. It is meant to measure trends in eviction spikes. It also does not account for self-help evictions, an illegal tactic most major real estate management companies are resorting to in order to curtail laws they think they are above.

Eviction: A Door that Opens to the Path of Homelessness

The 2008 recession, in tandem with the affordable housing crisis, and the impossible hurdle of student loan debt, created a generation of renters. In 2019, Business Insider concluded that 12% of millennials intended to rent forever. Not because they preferred to, but because they couldn’t afford to purchase homes.

It is a sad day when the inability to buy a house becomes the aftereffect of graduating from college.

This harsh reality is exacerbated further when you consider the fact that most millennials are severely rent-burdened. Approximately 45% of their income goes directly to paying for a dwelling space they’ll never own.

Now, in the middle of international chaos, American renters are more at the mercy of big real estate than ever before. This is because, despite measures such as moratoriums and rent relief, landlords are still moving to evict.

From the outside, an eviction looks like a locked door that closes unexpectedly. In reality, eviction is an open door that leads down a desolate pathway into homelessness. This is because eviction isn’t just the result of poverty. It is also a cause of poverty. Circular in nature, eviction leaves renters in a state of destitution. Once the ink on an eviction notice is dry, a recipient renter is likely to experience one or more of the following:

  • Instability
  • Job loss as a result of that instability
  • Inability to continue higher levels of education

If an eviction gives way to homelessness, that same individual is likely to lose:

  • Their life (as a result of COVID-19 or any other communicable illness)
  • Their loved ones (as families who go the shelter route are likely to be separated)
  • Identifying documents
  • Their will to live a happy life
  • Worldly possessions, which might carry monetary or sentimental value
  • Their self-respect

Evictions Keep Happening Behind Bureaucratic Red Tape that Makes Them Difficult to Track

The Eviction Lab is a dedicated team of researchers and writers led by renowned author Matthew Desmond, seeking to make eviction data more accessible to the general public. With that mission in mind, they have posted an eviction tracking system, a virtual tally that’s perpetually increasing at a time when it should really be on pause.

Today, we face a looming crisis wherein tens of millions of renters are vulnerable to eviction and its inevitable predecessor homelessness.

Even with the knowledge of this looming crisis, the US government still lacks an official eviction tracking system. State governments have failed to collect necessary eviction data. Without this data projected on a national level, everyday Americans are kept in the dark about how serious and impactful eviction is in the United States.

Eviction takes its toll, not just on the renters who are victimized by it, but also on entire communities. Eviction drains community resources, placing a burden on:

  • School system
  • Community development
  • Social services sector and much more

What we have now, thanks to the content creators at Eviction Lab, is a starting point to analyze data and eviction trends. If this number reflects evictions filed in five of the 50 states in the nation, then we can conclude that the average number of evictions per state (based on this data alone) is about 49,200.

If we multiply that number by 50, we get an estimated 2,460,000 filed evictions nationwide. One can only imagine the chaos that would come about if 2.5 million people suddenly became homeless as the result of big real estate’s unfathomable greed.

Here are some of the most predictable effects:

  • Children dropping out of school because they cannot access technology
  • Babies starving to death or freezing to death after being exposed to the elements
  • Whole communities shutting down school and work programs because community resources are completely drained
  • Environmental catastrophes as pollution rises due to the influx of people living on sidewalks and in their vehicles

Noteworthy: Eviction Lab tracked 3,591 filed evictions last week. However, many self-help evictions are never filed at all.

When it comes to preventing evictions lots of advocates and researchers want to help. Landlords make a nice little loophole though, by helping themselves.

In other words, they seek to skip the court proceedings by psyching out their opponents (I mean tenants, the very people who make their multi-billion-dollar businesses possible who they seem to view as opponents) with letters demanding evacuation in under a week.

Do these letters work? Well, nobody knows because nobody is tracking them. However, it’s pretty safe to assume that since the content in the letters is highly illegal, if they didn’t work, these corporations would probably stop sending them.

Between filed evictions and self-help evictions, a clear picture of the new American landscape has been painted. Millions of people are at risk of becoming homeless right now or in the near future. Moratoriums are helping some, but some landlords are only helping themselves.

Conclusion: Eviction is a Violent Crime and Should be Prosecuted as Such

In general, homeless people are 3-4x more likely to die prematurely than their housed counterparts. Many housing advocates claim that eviction during the pandemic is akin to murder. After much research, I concur with that statement.

An 18-page study released in November of 2020, estimated that eviction was directly responsible for 433,700 COVID-positive incidents and 10,700 COVID-related fatalities.

Contact your representatives and tell them that you believe landlords who violate eviction moratoriums and attempt to evict during the pandemic should be charged with violent crimes.


Cynthia Griffith

Cynthia Griffith

     

Cynthia Griffith is a freelance writer dedicated to social justice and environmental issues.

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