Over 14% of Renters Are Still Behind as Eviction Moratorium Nears Its End

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The federal eviction ban will end soon, and that could leave millions of Americans at risk of becoming homeless.

When the U.S. jobless rate exploded early on in the pandemic, it quickly became clear that a widespread homelessness crisis was about to emerge in the absence of federal aid. That aid came in the form of a ban on evictions for unpaid rent related to the coronavirus crisis.

But now, the federal moratorium on evictions is set to expire at the end of June. And so far, there are no plans to extend it. That means more than 10 million Americans could be at risk of becoming homeless in the very near future.

Many renters are still behind

An estimated 14% of U.S. renters still owe their landlords past due rent, according to data collected by the Census Bureau between May 12 and 24 and analyzed by The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

Incidentally, the CBPP also found that more than a quarter of Americans are still having trouble paying their basic living expenses and that about 9% are unable to feed their households adequately.

Once the federal eviction ban expires, renters who are still delinquent could be forced out of their homes if they're unable to pay their landlords in full.

That said, some landlords have gotten paid through the $45 billion in rental assistance funds made available under the last two stimulus bills. Those landlords cannot evict tenants, or at least can't do so immediately.

But unfortunately, a lot of that rental assistance money has yet to go out. Part of the problem is that states were given those funds to disburse individually, and there have been numerous delays in getting the funds into landlords' hands. While that pool of money is meant to help delinquent tenants, the funds themselves are generally being paid directly to the landlords who are owed money from renters.

Some lawmakers are arguing that the federal eviction ban needs to be extended until, at the very least, the entire $45 billion rental assistance pot has been distributed. But that could take time, and many landlords have already challenged the eviction moratorium on the basis that it leaves them in a financial lurch.

There's a lot of truth to that. Many of the country's landlords are individuals who make a living collecting rent and have their own mortgages to pay. While large property management companies may have the resources to let struggling renters off the hook for months at a time, landlords with one or two rental units can't be as generous when losing those rent payments means losing their primary income stream.

So far, there's no talk of the federal eviction ban getting extended beyond the end of June. And while some states are taking steps to put added renter protections into place, on a national level, tenants will need to gear up for the fact that the moratorium is ending.

It's fair to say that on a whole, the country is doing better, economically speaking. But that doesn't help those individuals who are still struggling financially and face the very real risk of homelessness at the end of the month.

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