WASHINGTON — The pandemic has been a financial nightmare for many Americans. A year and a half in, tens of millions are still behind on their rent. To account for that, the CDC's eviction moratorium has made it temporarily illegal for Americans to be evicted from their homes during the COVID-19 public health crisis.
Posts with thousands of likes and retweets claim that upwards of 10 million Americans will face eviction when that moratorium runs out. The Verify team brought that statistic to the experts and dug into the data.
Will 3% of Americans face eviction when the federal moratorium ends?
- Data from the U.S. Census Bureau
- Diane Yentel, the President and CEO of The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC)
- Neil Satterlund, a staff attorney with the DC Tenants' Rights Center
Yes. Based on Census Pulse Survey data, between 2 and 4% of Americans say they could be evicted from their homes in the next two months.
WHAT WE FOUND
The U.S. Census Bureau periodically conducts pulse surveys. Based on survey data from May 31 - June 7, 2020, 13.6% of respondents were not caught up on rent payments. Among that group, 45.5% said they are very or somewhat likely to be evicted from their home in the next two months.
Among all respondents from that week of surveys, 2.2% say they are very likely to be evicted in the next two months and 3.9% say they are somewhat likely. Diane Yentel says that number could be even higher.
"There are 6 million renter households, with as many as 15 million people within them, who remain behind on rent having fallen behind during the pandemic and are at heightened risk of eviction when the moratorium expires," Yentel told us.
Almost 900,000 Americans were evicted in 2016 according to Princeton University's Eviction Lab. When the moratorium is lifted, we could see an eviction rate six times higher than that over the course of just a few months.
"This is a really unique moment...it's a tremendous number of people who could lose their homes," Yentel says. "Hopefully by August 1, the numbers will be lower. Hopefully state and local efforts to get emergency rental assistance to the tenants who need it will be successful."
The CDC's moratorium meant that tenants cannot be physically evicted from their homes, but it did not federally ban eviction filings. That means it's possible that landlords have already begun the eviction process against many families, and are waiting for the day when they can have a U.S. Marshall physically remove their tenant.
Eviction filings on their own, Yentel says, can be detrimental to a renter's future even without removal. That filing can stay on your record and prevent you from finding adequate housing in the future and launch what Yentel calls the "spiral of poverty."
"It comes up in background checks in some places. It can remain on a person's record for years," Yentel explains. "It's much harder for them to find adequate, affordable homes and landlords who will rent to them. So they usually end up living in dilapidated housing in communities with less access to healthy food or jobs or transportation, and that spiraling down occurs."
Washington D.C.'s eviction moratorium went a step further than the CDC's and put a ban on landlords filing for evictions. The city's moratorium is set to expire on July 25, but Neil Satterlund with the DC Tenants' Rights Center says the D.C. Council is planning a phased out approach to continue to protect renters.
"The current law says that you can't even send out a notice telling a tenant why they might be about to be evicted until 60 days after the public health emergency," Satterlund explains. "All types of eviction now...require at least 30 days advance notice to the tenant."
Rental assistance is a temporary fix, our experts told us. But there are tons of resources for people who are struggling and need help making rent.
DC tenants can apply for assistance at stay.dc.gov.
There are more than 400 emergency rental assistance programs across the country. You can find a database of those resources on the NLIHC website.