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Americans will owe an estimated $34-$70 billion in rent by January 2021. (CDC Letter) (National Low Income Housing Coalition) (Market Watch)
And when the eviction moratorium expires, 30-40 million renters are at risk of losing their homes during a deadly pandemic.
“Without immediate action, tens of millions of people could lose their homes, and the consequences will be catastrophic. Many will die, government spending will increase, and the ripple effects of evictions will harm families, children and communities for years,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “When our collective health depends on our ability to stay in our homes, we all have a stake in ensuring tens of millions of renters don’t lose theirs.”
What doesn't help in the midst of this rental crisis is that the public housing system in the United States is drastically underfunded.
"Throughout the nation, public housing is in pretty rough shape. The Public Housing Capital Fund, which Congress provides to pay for repairs, has been underfunded for so long that we now lose more than 10,000 public housing apartments each year because they are no longer habitable. Some public housing agencies have endured financial challenges and mismanagement that leads to HUD taking them over." (National Low Income Housing Coalition)
And the largest public housing system in the U.S., in New York City, is falling apart. (The Wall Street Journal)
Fortunately, the signed stimulus bill offers some renter aid and extends the eviction moratorium to January 31st, 2021.
We are glad that some measures were taken. But will this be enough?
The COVID-19 economic relief package signed by Donald Trump on December 27th, 2020, includes $25 billion to help struggling tenants pay their landlords. (Caanet, 12-28-20).
The money will certainly lighten a backlog of unpaid rent that’s left rental property owners struggling to pay their own bills, such as mortgages, payroll and for repairs.
“This is a down payment of funds that local, state and federal governments owe to landlords,” said Tom Bannon, chief executive officer of the California Apartment Association, adding that housing providers and residents will require further rent relief. “Just like with tenants, COVID hardships are not a landlord’s fault.”
Besides the help for rental payments, the stimulus package contains other aid that may help tenants cover their rent. The package includes direct, onetime payments of $600 to individuals making less than $75,000 per year or $1,200 to couples who make less than $150,000 annually. Families will receive an additional $600 per child.
The package also furnishes an additional $300 per week in unemployment benefits through mid-March. The stimulus deal also resurrects the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses, although landlords did not qualify for those funds in the summer.
Though once again, the eviction moratorium will expire January 31st, 2021. So what will happen then?
Clearly the crisis will not be over by January 31st. The moratorium needs to be extended and more action is needed.
OFFICIAL TEXT OF DECEMBER 2020 STIMULUS BILL
Read the Stimulus Bill Here (PDF)
It is over 5,000 pages.
EARTH FUTURE ACTION REPORTS
Reduce your Risk of Being Evicted - Guidelines for Tenants 2020-2021
$34-$70 IN UNPAID RENT
National Low Income Housing Coalition
NEWS ON THE RENT CRISIS
With Rent Freezes About to Expire, Mnuchin Lobbies for More Wall Street Bailouts (Mint Press News, 12-4-20)
Despite federal ban, renters still being evicted amid virus (AP News, 11-29-20)
WHAT'S IN THE DECEMBER 2020 STIMULUS PACKAGE FOR RENTERS?
A Look at What’s in the Stimulus Package Trump Signed (New York Times, 12-29-20)
UPDATE: President signs COVID stimulus package with $25B for rent relief (Caanet, 12-28-20)
Public Housing: Where Do We Stand? (National Low Income Housing Coalition)
Largest Public-Housing System in the U.S. Is Crumbling (The Wall Street Journal)