Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

A demonstrator calls on the governor to suspend rent and mortgage payments to help those who have lost their income due to the coronavirus during a protest on April 30, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Without Government Intervention, Economists Warn Renters Across US Could Soon Face 'Avalanche of Evictions'

"The fact that we are displacing people in a global pandemic is immoral."

Julia Conley

Economists and housing experts on Wednesday warned of an impending "avalanche of evictions" unless the federal government steps in to provide renters with robust financial assistance during the coronavirus pandemic.

Census data released earlier this month shows about a quarter of respondents weren't able to pay their rent or mortgage in May or are concerned they won't be able to pay in June. Compounding the problem, many local and state-level temporary moratoriums on evictions are expiring in the coming weeks.

Without government intervention, housing expert Emily Benfer told the New York Times, "I think we will enter into a severe renter crisis and very quickly."

House Democrats this month put forward $100 billion in rental and mortgage  assistance as part of the $3 trillion HEROES Act. Republicans have signaled that the relief package won't pass in the Senate, with Senate Majority Leader deriding it as a "seasonal catalog of left-wing oddities" and pushing to include in any new coronavirus legislation legal immunity for businesses if their employees become ill after being pushed to go back to work. 

While many other wealthy countries have provided their populations with direct stimulus payments, government-backed paychecks for anyone who can't work during the crisis, and other programs to ensure they won't have to choose between paying their rent, groceries, or medical bills, all most Americans have received so far are a one-time $1,200 check and an extra $600 per week for those who can access unemployment benefits.


"The reason this pandemic hit the U.S. so uniquely hard is simple: government ineptitude," tweeted columnist Phillip Picardi. "People shouldn't have to pay for the sins of our politicians."

Democrats in Congress want the $600 in added unemployment benefits extended until January 2021, but Republicans intend to block an extension and leave unemployed Americans without any extra benefits after the program expires in July. 

A federal moratorium on evictions, included in the CARES Act and passed in March, is also scheduled to expire at the end of July, and only applies to properties with government-backed loans—protecting about 28% of renters. 

State and local orders in states including California and Oregon are also set to expire at the end of May or in June, and the Texas Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that evictions for tenants not protected by the CARES Act could begin again this week. 

The housing advocacy group Texas Housers warned that the state Supreme Court's ruling could have a devastating effect on renters and the overall economy.

"Tenants will have their lives upended as a result of evictions, landlords may have an increase in empty units they can't fill and cities will have a homelessness crisis on their hands," deputy director Christina Rosales told the Texas Tribune. 

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro tweeted that the federal government's failure to provide renters with long-term assistance for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic will exacerbate the "housing affordability crisis" which existed long before the outbreak. 

"If we don't act soon to support renters and homeowners, we may have an eviction crisis on our hands," Castro wrote.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Biden Drilling Report Blasted as 'Shocking Capitulation to the Needs of Corporate Polluters'

"Greenlighting more fossil fuel extraction, then pretending it's OK by nudging up royalty rates, is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic," said one campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·

UNESCO Members Adopt First Global AI Ethics Agreement 'To Benefit Humanity'

"We're at a critical juncture in history," said Ethics in Tech founder Vahid Razavi. "We need as humans to come together and decide what is the best course of action to take with these technologies before they surpass us in their abilities."

Brett Wilkins ·

Progressive US Lawmakers Mark Black Friday With Calls to Pass the PRO Act

"The right to organize, fight for better working conditions, and fair pay must always be protected."

Jessica Corbett ·

'We Are Fighting Back': Global Black Friday Strikes and Protests Seek to #MakeAmazonPay

"We are workers and activists divided by geography and our role in the global economy but united in our commitment to Make Amazon Pay fair wages, its taxes, and for its impact on the planet."

Kenny Stancil ·

'It Was Entirely Avoidable': Rich Countries Blamed as New Covid Variant Sparks Global Alarm

"Allowing new variants to emerge and spread, 13 months into the vaccine era, is a policy choice by the rich world."

Jake Johnson ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo