Since Saturday, July 31st, which will forever go down in history as the day the American government allowed eviction moratoriums to expire, homeless news has been a whirlwind whipping from coast to coast.
In a matter of days, the National Low Income Housing Coalition took to the podium demanding action on a federal level. As it stands, the national eviction moratorium has lapsed, leaving an astonishing 6.5 million renters at risk of eviction and subsequent homelessness as a direct result.
The White House has agreed to meet the NLIHC’s requirements in a swift move toward rectification. But what does that mean for everyday American workers, renters, and homeowners? More importantly, how can you help?
The Demands: A Brief Overview of What the National Low Income Housing Coalition Says Needs to Happen as Soon as Possible
In response to this astronomical failure of action, the NLIHC claimed the only way to avoid an epidemic of eviction was to instate the following immediately:
- Extension of statewide eviction moratoriums. With national protections nixed, housing advocates demanded moratorium extensions on a state and local level. Citing a surge in both the COVID-19 Delta variant and eviction filings/ proceedings, they made the case that public health must come above financial interest. In their initial statement, they pointed out the slow-moving pace of emergency aid distribution. A vast portion of the billions of dollars in rent relief has not yet reached its target, which leads to the next point.
- More rapid distribution of rent relief and other forms of emergency assistance. In yet another massive government fumble, less than 10% of the $46 billion in rent relief has been distributed to the public. As lives continue to depend on these lifelines, the NLIHC has urged state and local governments to pick up the pace and create rapid, accessible, effective distribution programs.
- Applying additional protections for renters in need. The final cry for justice calls for additional protections got renters. This translates to everything from utility aid to eviction record expungement and a standard right to legal counsel and/or representation. It also means aid for mortgage holders, many of whom face similar plights and have also fallen through the cracks of a broken social structure.
In A Swift, Laser-Focused Response, the White House Agreed to What NLIHC Leader Diane Yentel Calls “Many” of these Demands. But, What Does that Really Mean?
For now, it means reinstatement of the national eviction moratorium, effective now until October 3rd. However, no modern-day victory is ever quite what it seems. This one comes with several limitations.
This new eviction moratorium might not universally apply across the board. The CDC has issued it specifically for renters in places where COVID-19 is surging or rampant. From a purely statistical standpoint, approximately 80% of the 6.5 million renters at risk of eviction reside in regions where the Delta variant is surging, and the COVID crisis is raging on.
Experts project that this new moratorium will protect about 90% of at-risk renters, whereas the previous moratorium was all-inclusive. 10% of 6.5 million still leaves 650,000 American renters out in the cold. If trends amongst corporate landlords remain steady, they will likely fire even more holes into this weaker version of the eviction protections.
Other White House-Inspired Protections Available as Well
Previously, in the last couple of days, Press Secretary Jen Psaki outlined eviction protection efforts. The statement outlined the government’s commitment to preventing eviction using all the following efforts:
- Encouraging eviction extension on a state and local level
- Stopping courts from proceeding with evictions in cases where renters and landlords had not yet applied for or received emergency rent relief funding
- Mandating landlords apply for ERA instead of moving toward eviction
- Making viable efforts to ensure all renters in need can access rent relief funding promptly
- Striving to arm at-risk renters with legal representatives, housing counseling, and court assistance
- Encouraging authoritative figures to end evictions with or without an official eviction ban in place
How You Can Help
Through these trying times, housing advocates have learned that voices from voters really do count. The recent legislation reinstating the moratorium is nothing short of proof. Today, American renters and homeowners alike need your help more than ever. Other social safety nets are needed to make lasting, long-term solutions to homelessness prevention a reality.
Please contact your local legislators and demand the following today:
- Removing the red tape that’s making it harder for renters to access emergency rent relief
- Informing the public, both renters and landlords, of protections in place to help avoid evictions
- Strengthening this new eviction moratorium and enforcing it on a national level
We must advocate for more lasting solutions, like the #Housed Campaign’s long-term policy agenda as we move forward. Much is at stake. But if we play our position correctly, advancements in the fight against homelessness could well be on the horizon.