A historic evacuation disaster might hit america in a number of days
Source: Emily Benfer
Most evictions in the US have been banned since last September, but this protection is now set to end in a few days. Millions of families could be evicted from their homes in August.
The proportion of adult tenants who are behind with their home payments – around 16% – has only declined slowly. The $ 45 billion in federal rental subsidies that Congress provided to deal with the crisis reached people painfully slowly and the economic recovery has been uneven.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national eviction moratorium faced numerous legal challenges, and landlords criticized the policy, saying they couldn’t afford to house people for free or carry the land’s massive arrears of rent, which are up to $ 70 billion Dollars.
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CNBC spoke to the country’s foremost eviction expert Emily Benfer this week about what to expect when the ban ends on July 31st.
Benfer is visiting professor of law and public health at Wake Forest University and chair of the American Bar Association’s Task Force Committee on Eviction. The interview has been edited and shortened for reasons of clarity.
CNBC: The CDC’s eviction ban has been extended several times. Is there a chance that this will happen again?
Emily Benfer: Millions of families face the loss of their homes. Congress could ratify the moratorium and give the Biden administration power to extend it, but it sounds like they need a certain number of Republicans and that support just isn’t there.
CNBC: How many families could face eviction in August?
EB: I looked at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and its analysis of the Household Pulse Survey. Their last count was that more than 10 million Americans are behind on their rent. You could face eviction. The other number to look at is the Eviction Lab’s tracking system. All of these submitted cases, if they have not yet been processed, could be scheduled for a hearing in the first few weeks of August. That’s over 350,000 cases that were stopped in the pandemic and could move on pretty quickly.
CNBC: Of the $ 45 billion Congress allocated for rental subsidies, only about $ 3 billion had reached households by the end of June. How surprised are you that the money is flowing so slowly?
EB: It’s scary. Cities and states faced an increased risk of eviction and the opportunity to create this infrastructure over a year ago, and the lack of attention and robust interventions has led to this moment when they are not prepared to prevent the evacuation spurt.
CNBC: How effective was the CDC ban in preventing evictions?
EB: Though it had its flaws, it was still vital in keeping submissions well below normal levels. We could have seen twice as many evictions across the country than during this time.
CNBC: Despite the surge in vaccination rates and the improving economy, the number of people behind on their rent hasn’t really gone down since March. Why do you think that is so?
EB: Only a fraction of the rent subsidies reached the people with the highest risk of eviction.
CNBC: Who will be hardest hit by the crisis?
EB: When the moratorium expires, most of the people at risk of eviction will come from historically marginalized communities, i.e. black families, mothers and children.
CNBC: What are the main consequences of an eviction?
EB: We know the eviction increases the rates of infection and death related to Covid, and we also know that vaccination rates are lowest in the communities currently at the highest risk of eviction. An eviction makes it incredibly difficult to secure housing in the future as it leaves a trail on a person’s file. Preventing evictions must be our national priority. Without it, we will experience multi-generation effects from which our country will find it difficult to recover.
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