As of today, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended its ban on evictions in counties with substantial Covid-19 transmission. The moratorium is in place until Oct. 3, 2021.
According to census data, nearly 7.5 million Americans have fallen behind on rent and could be at risk of facing eviction in the next two months. Another 6 million could risk losing housing in the next two months due to foreclosure.
Without the moratorium, the CDC says, the potential homelessness crisis brought on by the evictions would result in the further spread of Covid-19, particularly as the areas with higher rates of infection and lower vaccination levels tend to be where lower-income people live. The data show that Latinx renters are under greater threat than any other group.
The Covid-19 syndemic—you read that right—has exacerbated existing inequalities. Historically lower-income groups, particularly among Black and Hispanic minorities, face a higher-than-ever risk of losing their homes. This is because they have also been affected disproportionally by the disease, as well as consequential job and income losses.
As the census data show, Latinx and Blacks make up over half of those who have fallen behind on rent, despite representing only 30% of the US population. Latinx and Hispanics face especially challenging situations, representing the absolute majority of those with the highest likelihood of losing their home within two months.
Official data on actual evictions (as opposed to falling behind on rent) are scarce, but data collected and analyzed by Princeton University’s Eviction Lab confirm the racial disparities suggested by the census.
In Houston, for instance, researchers found that the neighborhoods with the highest rates of eviction filings are also the ones with the lowest vaccination rates, and contain a majority of Hispanic and Black people.
In New York City, neighborhoods with large Black and Latinx populations experienced both higher Covid-19 caseloads and higher eviction rates. In particular, residents of Latinx-majority neighborhoods in the city face a much higher risk of evictions than residents of other neighborhoods, and Latinx-majority zipcodes have registered the largest number of new eviction filings after the end of the first New York state moratorium, in June 2020 (the state moratorium has currently been extended till Aug. 31).
The federal ban on evictions applies to counties that have substantial or high levels of Covid-19 transmission, which are those with more than 50 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people. According to the latest CDC data, that is more than 80% of US counties.
Counties remain covered by the moratorium for two weeks after transmissions have decreased to moderate or low.
In order to be protected, other than living in one of the affected counties, tenants that are behind on rent should satisfy certain requirements:
- They must have tried to obtain all available housing or rent support from the government.
- They must have an income below $99,000 per adult (or $198,000 in case of joint filing), not be required to file income tax, or have received a stimulus check.
- They have to be unable to make payments because of loss of income or healthcare expenses.
- They must try to make partial rent payments that are as close as possible to the full amount due.
- They don’t have alternative housing options and would likely be rendered homeless by the eviction.