As COVID-19 cases surge, more Americans are finding themselves unemployed and with not enough government assistance.
Since mid-March, 44 million Americans have filed for unemployment. These benefits are set to expire at the end of this month, leaving millions with an uncertain financial future.
With 110 million people living in rented households in the U.S., mass evictions are a possibility for one in every five renters, according to data from The Aspen Institute. Depending on continued unemployment, up to 23 million people could be evicted by the end of September.
The Aspen Institute estimated that renters may need $144 billion in assistance, based on data from the National Apartment Association and National Multifamily Housing Council.
Emily Benfer, the chair of the American Bar Association’s Task Force Committee on Eviction, said in a recent interview with CNBC that the possibility of so many people getting evicted is unprecedented. Benfer is also co-creator of the COVID-19 Housing Policy Scorecard with the Eviction Lab at Princeton University.
“We can expect this to increase dramatically in the coming weeks and months, especially as the limited support and intervention measures that are in place start to expire,” Benfer said. “About 10 million people, over a period of years, were displaced from their homes following the foreclosure crisis in 2008. We’re looking at 20 million to 28 million people in this moment, between now and September, facing eviction.”
In terms of eviction moratoriums, which have been few and far between in the U.S., Benfer said that there needs to be a nationwide, uniform moratorium put in place to avoid issues that may arise if mass evictions happen.
For rent due in August, 31% already know they probably won’t be able to make the payment.
“The owners that are the most likely to be affected by the eviction crisis right now are those who have small properties and don’t have the financial cushion to make ends meet over a period of months when they’re not receiving that rent,” Benfer said. “Once that’s in place, we really need to start addressing the root causes of the eviction crisis and the lack of affordable housing.”