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‘Down the drain’: millions face deportation after Biden lets protections expire


“We’ve bypassed a drain,” said KC Tenants director Tara Raghuveer, a housing planner in Kansas City, Missouri.

The last-minute standoff between President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress that led to the removal of the deportation ban this week threatens to impose new economic burdens on state and local governments. Officials will need to respond to mass evictions triggered by landlords – many of whom are struggling financially themselves due to lost income – who are set to evict tenants who fell behind on their bills during the pandemic . The safety net for tenants is severely weakened, with less than a dozen eviction bans by state and state and local governments disbursing only a fraction of the $ 46.5 billion in aid rental that Congress has authorized over the past year.

President Joe Biden, in a statement Friday, called on state and local governments “to take all possible measures to immediately disburse these funds” given the end of the moratorium.

“There can be no excuse that a state or locality does not speed up funds for homeowners and tenants who have been injured during this pandemic,” he said. “Every state and local government must withdraw these funds to ensure that we prevent all possible evictions.”

Biden also suggested that they institute their own bans: “State and local governments should also be aware that there are no legal obstacles to the moratorium at the state and local level.”

Housing advocates warn of gruesome images and hardship for many Americans who have suffered the most from Covid-19.

“My biggest concern is the dynamics of the tens of thousands of sheriff’s deputies and other law enforcement officials executing evictions across the country at the same time during the hottest month of the year.” said David Dworkin, president and CEO of the National Housing Conference. , an affordable housing advocacy group.

About 7.4 million adult renters said they were behind on rent in the latest US Census Bureau survey, which was taken during the last week of June and the first week of July. About 3.6 million renter households said they were “somewhat likely” or “very likely” to be evicted in the next two months.

Others say the at-risk tenant population is much larger. The Left Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that 11.4 million tenants – 16% of adults living in rental housing – are not caught up on rent.

The expiration of the eviction ban, which was first imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in September as a Covid-19 safety measure, comes after owners warned it was costing them billions of dollars every month. Industry groups including the National Association of Realtors lobbied against extending the moratorium this week and argued lawmakers that it “unfairly puts economic hardship on the backs of housing providers who have compromised their own.” financial future to provide essential housing to tenants across the country. . “

Industry groups said the ban has been particularly difficult for family owners who provide 40 percent of rental units nationwide. They “continue to pay mortgages, taxes, insurance and maintain the security of their properties for tenants with less or, in many cases, no rental income,” the groups said in a letter to lawmakers on Thursday.

The White House announced Thursday that it would not extend the moratorium due to the prospect of legal challenges, which have been waged for months by the owners. The Biden administration cited a Supreme Court ruling last month that upheld the ban until July 31, but made it clear that a majority of judges believed the CDC was overstepping its legal authority.

Biden urged Congress to step in and pass a new ban, but at least a dozen House Democrats revolted as homeowners and other housing industry groups warned of their own economic hardships .

The situation that begins to unfold on Saturday will vary from state to state. In six states and 31 cities tracked by the Princeton University Eviction Lab, homeowners have filed more than 451,000 evictions since March 15, 2020. Homeowners typically file around 3.7 million eviction cases per year, and deposits should therefore swell in August.

In places like Texas, which has allowed eviction proceedings to continue under the federal ban to the point of evicting tenants from their homes, courts are expected to see an increase in eviction requests on Monday. Thirty-one percent of the 4.7 million adult renters in Texas said they had “no” or “little” confidence in their ability to pay next month’s rent, according to the census survey.

In Houston – the state’s largest city – nearly 40,000 eviction cases have been filed since March 2020, according to Princeton’s Eviction Lab. On average, Houston receives around 58,400 deposits per year, suggesting that an increase in deposits is likely as the city returns to normal.

Ohio has no special protection in place for tenants, and nearly 134,000 tenants say they are very or somewhat likely to be evicted. The Florida state ban expired in October and more than 350,000 people are in arrears with rent.

And although New York City had strong protections in place for tenants until August, it was also among the slowest states to provide relief funds, not distributing any of the first installments of funds provided by Congress until. ‘in June. There is no public data on New York’s disbursement of second tranche funding.

State and local governments say it has been difficult to get federal aid into the hands of tenants and landlords as they have been forced to offer relief programs from scratch.

The apparent aid bottleneck in New York has raised fears it will face its own massive spike in deportations within a month of the expiration of a state ban. More than 860,000 tenants in the state say they are behind on rent.

Sunia Zaterman, executive director of the nonprofit Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, said there would be a “tsunami” of evictions.

“We are standing on the beach watching the waves come in,” she said.

Melanie Wang, a national on-the-ground organizer for Right to the City Alliance, is among many housing advocates and even Democratic lawmakers who have expressed frustration over the last-minute White House announcement that the ban would lapse and the situation was no longer in Biden’s hands. .

“Again, we’re on the verge of a flood of evictions that tenants and housing advocates have been warning about for a year and a half now, and it’s been kind of a jump-start experience. elastic, ”Wang said. “So to have such a lukewarm response from the Biden administration at this point is really frustrating.”



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