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'Something's Gotta Give Here': Urgent Action Demanded as 23 Million US Families Face Possible Eviction by October

"This is madness," said Diane Yentel of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. "We need a national eviction moratorium and rent relief now."

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. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A study from the Colorado-based Covid Eviction Defense Project revealed Monday that as many as 23 million families in the U.S. could be evicted by October if the federal government doesn't step in to provide ongoing assistance.

Protections for renters living in units in buildings with federally-backed mortgages were included in the CARES Act in late March, but the moratorium on those evictions is set to expire July 25. The provision applied to only about a fifth of renters in the U.S.; other state and city eviction bans are expiring as well.

A May Census Bureau report revealed that about 20% of Americans—or 13 million people—missed their rent payments that month. An online survey by Apartment List last month showed that 30% of people were unable to pay their rent in June.

"When families struggle, kids pay the price and right now, families are drowning... To protect kids, Congress needs to provide ongoing economic relief [and] a pause in evictions."
—Justin Ruben, ParentsTogether

With the $600 per week unemployment bonus included in the CARES Act also set to expire at the end of this month—and a one-time $1,200 direct payment for some households long since spent on necessities by many recipients—millions of people aren't expected to be able to pay the back-rent they now owe or their upcoming monthly payments.

Tens of thousands of renters in states including Virginia, North Carolina, and Michigan could face imminent evictions without federal protections in place. 

According to Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Michigan currently has a backlog of 75,000 eviction filings. The state's eviction moratorium expires on Thursday.

"This is madness," tweeted Yentel. "We need a national eviction moratorium and rent relief now."

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"This is a shocking number," wrote Zach Neumann, founder of the Covid-19 Eviction Defense Project, of Michigan's backlog.

On Monday, Law360 published a map showing eviction "hotspots" expected to emerge as relief expires, revealing that most states will likely qualify as epicenters of the potential housing insecurity crisis. 

"Something's gotta give here," tweeted Neumann. "People need money or time."

Congress is currently debating the components of a fifth coronavirus relief bill. The HEROES Act, passed in May by House Democrats, included $100 billion for emergency rental assistance programs, a $75 billion relief fund for homeowners, and extended eviction and foreclosure moratoriums through March 2021. While the package left out a number of key priorities put forward by progressives, Senate Republicans dismissed the bill as a "liberal wish list."

The national parent-led organization ParentsTogether shared the results of a survey on Tuesday showing that 70% of 1,500 respondents said their family is currently "struggling." Forty-five percent said they were concerned about losing their homes without the federal government stepping in to extend protection from evictions.

"When families struggle, kids pay the price and right now, families are drowning," said Justin Ruben, co-director of ParentsTogether. "Unless Congress acts immediately, things will only get worse as the extra unemployment checks stop, and evictions start. To protect kids, Congress needs to provide ongoing economic relief [and] a pause in evictions."

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