Renters brace for evictions as moratorium ends

After talks with the White House on the next economic rescue package stalled on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans would release their proposal for the legislation “early next week.” But GOP lawmakers are still split over unemployment benefits, and the leadership has not made rent relief a priority.

Brown on Thursday excoriated McConnell on the Senate floor for letting the House moratorium bill “collect dust” on his desk.

“Right now, millions of Americans are in danger of losing their homes,” Brown said. “The last thing we need in the middle of a public health crisis is families being turned out on the streets.”

The Senate adjourned hours later, allowing the federal ban — which covers about 12 million households — to expire as scheduled on Friday.

There’s still a grace period, though. Under the CARES Act, landlords who were subject to the ban must give tenants 30 days’ notice before filing eviction papers in court.

“Families won’t actually be pushed out of their homes until the end of August, so there is still an ever-closing window where Congress can act,” said Yentel, who is leading a coalition of housing groups to pressure lawmakers for additional relief.

Relief efforts so far have prevented a dramatic drop-off in rent payments, despite tens of millions of Americans losing their jobs: 91.3 percent of apartment households had made a full or partial rent payment for this month as of July 20, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council — down just 2.1 percentage points from this time last year, and roughly in line with the 92.2 percent who had paid by mid-June.

But that’s sure to change quickly if Congress fails to reinstate the $600-per-week supplemental unemployment benefit after it lapses.

With the current benefits, just 3 percent of renter households are “severely housing burdened,” meaning they pay more than 50 percent of their incomes toward rent, according to a Zillow analysis of rental households impacted by the crisis released on Thursday. Losing the federal benefit, even if state unemployment benefits hold steady, would cause the severely burdened share of tenants to skyrocket to 41 percent, Zillow found.

“Right now, we’re in a situation where people will be evicted from their homes,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in an MSNBC interview Friday. “People will be on the street, and people are hungry. This is the United States of America. So let’s find out how we can work together to go forward.”

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