The coronavirus pandemic has shut down businesses, stopped sports, kept everyone inside, and has led to 44 million Americans claiming unemployment in the last five months. But another crisis is now looming that could leave Americans without a place to quarantine.
According to the Aspen Insitute, one in five of the 110 million Americans who rent houses are at risk of being evicted by the end of September.
“CEDP co-founder Sam Gilman reached the estimate by building a model that incorporated data on renter households’ income, savings, and housing cost burdens (a household is cost-burdened if they spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs such as rent or mortgage, utilities, insurance, taxes, and maintenance),” said the Aspen Institute. “The model also accounted for new income through stimulus payments, enhanced unemployment insurance, and state unemployment insurance in each of the 50 states and Washington, DC. This allowed the organization to predict how many renters are at risk depending on the level of unemployment renters are experiencing. If their unemployment rate is 25 percent, 19 million people would be at risk of eviction by September 30, as their unemployment benefits expire, stimulus payments are spent, and savings dwindle; that rises to 23 million if renters’ unemployment rate is 30 percent.”
The data also shows that minority groups will be disproportionately impacted by the possible housing crisis.
“Of the 25 large US cities with the highest eviction rates, six are located in Virginia and five in North Carolina,” said the Aspen Institute. “Racial discrimination is evident, as Black and Latinx people, particularly mothers and their kids, are the most likely to experience eviction. Other groups who suffer from high rates of eviction include people who are disabled, were formerly incarcerated, are undocumented, and/or are LGBTQ.”
The aid that the government provided in stimulus checks, unemployment checks, and rent moratoriums, helped Americans pay their bills for the time being. But the policies, without future action, will leave Americans out to dry when the rent moratoriums end and personal savings run out.
More than that, the eviction crisis would come after Americans already consider themselves to be in a dire situation. According to a report by the American Psychological Association, more than 70 percent of Americans think this is the lowest point in American history since they can remember.
The pandemic timeline does not look any clearer at the moment and there is no good guess on when life will return to normal. As such, the government needs to intervene and provide more aid to the American people once again to make sure there aren’t millions of people being evicted from their homes in the next few months.
“Ideally, the federal government would fund renter assistance,” said the Aspen Institute. “The US House of Representatives’ HEROES Act, passed in May, would authorize a $100 billion fund, but the Senate is unlikely to agree to that amount. It might also not be enough. The National Low Income Housing Coalition calls $100 billion the minimum viable amount; the National Apartment Association and National Multifamily Housing Council, which each represent landlords and property managers, estimate that renters may need $144 billion in assistance.”
If the government is able to prop up big corporations by flooding the market with trillions of dollars, it can surely provide just over $100 billion to help make sure Americans can have a roof over their heads.
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