Evictions surge as aid, protection disappears

Jada Riley thinks she has beaten homelessness.

The 26-year-old New Orleans resident is finally making a steady income from cleaning his home during the pandemic to afford a $700-a-month one-bedroom apartment. But after Hurricane Ida hit last year, she lost nearly all of her clients. Then she was fired from her job at a grocery store in February after taking a leave of absence to help a relative.

Two months behind on rent, she made the difficult decision to leave the apartment last month rather than risk eviction. She now lives in her car with her 6-year-old son, sometimes spending the night at friends or at the apartment of her son’s father.

“I’ve been sleeping outside for a whole year. It’s been very frustrating, and I’m not going to lie,” said Riley, who doesn’t have enough money to buy gas or afford food every day.

“I don’t want my son to go through any of the struggles I’ve been through.”

Eviction filings have risen steadily nationwide in recent months and are approaching or exceeding pre-pandemic levels in many cities and states.This is the same as Pandemicstate and federal pause On evictions, add a $46.5 billion f emergency rental assistance, Put millions of families home.

“I really think this is just the tip of the iceberg,” Shannon McKenzie, executive director of the Colorado Poverty Law Project, said of Denver’s June filing, which was about 24 percent higher than the same period three years ago. “Our evictions are increasing at an alarming rate every month, and I just don’t think that’s going to decrease any time soon.”

according to expulsion lab, several cities run well above historical averages, Minneapolis-St. Paul is up 91% in June, Las Vegas is up 56%, Hartford, Connecticut, is up 32% and Jacksonville, Florida, is up 17%. In Maricopa County, where Phoenix is ​​located, eviction filings in July were the highest in 13 years, officials said.

Some legal advocates say inflation is partly to blame for the sharp rise in house prices. Rent prices nationwide are up nearly 15% from a year ago and nearly 25% from 2019, according to real estate firm Zillow. Meanwhile, the rental vacancy rate has fallen to a 35-year low of 5.8 percent, according to the Census Bureau.

A report last month from National Low Income Housing Coalition It was found that tenants working full-time would need to make nearly $26 an hour on average nationwide to pay modest two-bedroom rents and $21.25 for one-bedrooms. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

“Landlords are raising rents, making it difficult for tenants to afford it,” said Marie Claire Chen Liang, director of the National Housing Law Project’s Eviction Initiative.

“Inflation does reduce the supply of housing available to the lowest income earners,” she added. “Without more protections, which are not available in all states, many families will be left homeless.”

Patrick McLeod, CEO of the Virginia Condominium Management Association, said the trend is returning to normal. “No one likes evictions, but they are in some ways a reset of the economy,” McLeod said, adding that evictions were “artificially repressed.”

“Housing is based on supply and demand. When no one moves and you don’t have vacancies, your market is tight and prices go up.”

Graham Bowman, a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society in Columbus, Ohio, said evictions are on the rise at a time when fewer places are being evicted — more than the historical average in June alone levels are 15% higher.

Sheryl Lynne Smith was evicted in May for using her rent to fix a sewage leak in the basement of her two-bedroom townhouse in Columbus. Smith, who is legally blind and has federal housing vouchers, fears she won’t be able to find anything when the vouchers expire in September due to rising home prices and eviction on her record.

“It’s pretty scary,” said Smith, 53, whose temporary stay at a hotel funded by a state program ends this weekend.

In Boise, Idaho, Jeremy McKenney, 45, moved into his car last week after a judge sided with a property management company that rented a two-bedroom home Almost tripled. Lyft and DoorDash drivers are required to rent hotel rooms as long as they have custody of their 9- and 12-year-olds.

“It’s absolutely exciting,” McEnany said, adding that even after the nonprofit offered to pay the bond, everything in the market was beyond his reach. “I’ve never been homeless before. I’ve always had a roof over my head.”

Another challenge is that federal emergency rental assistance that helps millions of people get housing during the pandemic has dried up in some jurisdictions or is increasingly being turned away by some landlords.

“What really strikes me is that there’s rent assistance, but a lot of landlords just don’t want it. They’d rather throw someone out on the street than take the money,” said Eric Kwartler, executive attorney for Lone Star Legal Aid’s eviction attorney rights program , which covers Houston and Harris counties in Texas. “If you take the money, you can’t evict” them. They want them out. “

The U.S. Treasury Department said last week that of the $46.5 billion in emergency rent assistance, more than $40 billion had been spent or allocated.

California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina and Virginia have completed at least 90 percent of their initial grants, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. As of the end of May, 12 states and the District of Columbia had used 50 percent of the second allocation, or ERA2. Three — Idaho, Ohio and Iowa — did not spend any ERA2 funding, and two — Nebraska and Arkansas — did not receive the funding.

“The public health emergency may still be there, but funding to deal with it is disappearing quickly,” said Martin Wegbreit, director of litigation at the Legal Aid Society of Central Virginia.

Treasury encourages states and cities to take advantage of other federal stimulus Funding to fill the gap. So far, more than 600 state and local governments have budgeted $12.9 billion in stimulus funding to meet housing needs, including affordable housing development.

Gene Sperling, who oversees President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, highlighted the success of his rental assistance program, which has reached 7 million mostly low-income households.

But more needs to be done to ensure the country does not return to its pre-pandemic era, when 3.6 million tenants were evicted each year and “evictions are often the first option, not the last resort,” he said in a statement. A forum on eviction reform said last week at the White House.

Some lawmakers say the answer is a permanent rental assistance program. A bill introduced in July would provide $3 billion a year in rental assistance and funding services to ensure families have housing. According to a study commissioned by the National Apartment Association and the National Multifamily Housing Council, the answer is to build 4.3 million apartments by 2035.

Other advocates have called for permanent legal protections, such as tenants’ rights to attorneys or an eviction diversion program, to resolve evictions before they appear in court.

In Richmond, Virginia, eviction filings in June were 54% lower than the historical average, attributed to rent assistance and more legal representation of tenants in court, Wegbreit said. New Mexico’s June eviction filings were 29% below the historical average, thanks to similar programs.

Philadelphia passed a law to force eviction transfers this year, and applications fell 33 percent. The Philadelphia City Council also approved spending $30 million in rental assistance over two years.

“We’re trying to change the way we look at this in Philadelphia, where the only thing you have to do is go to landlord-tenant court or start an eviction,” said Kathryn Anderson, a supervising attorney at Legal Aid of Philadelphia who oversees the Save Your Home Philly hotline.


Associated Press writers Jesse Bedayn in Denver, Ben Finley in Norfolk, Virginia, and Claudia Lauer in Philadelphia contributed to this report


This story has been corrected to indicate that McEnany is from Boise, Idaho, not Boise, Utah.

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