Kennia Viera, central Los Angeles, a single mother, unemployed and at risk of being displaced in late January, protests with her children Florisabella Houston-Viera, 7, Enrique Houston-Viera, 7. 9, left, after speaking at a protest for tenants at risk of eviction because of the financial consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. Protesters participate in a “posada” protest outside the house of Speaker of Parliament Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, to urge him to support AB 15 and AB 16 on Wednesday, December 16, 2020 in Lakewood, CA. .
Allen J. Cockroaches | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images
About 18% of renters in America, or around 10 million people, were behind with their rent payments earlier this month.
Far more than the 7 million or so homeowners who lost their property through foreclosure during the subprime mortgage crisis and the great recession that followed. And that happened over a period of five years.
In one of his first executive orders, President Joe Biden extended the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s current eviction moratorium to the end of March, but that should not be long enough.
A new analysis by Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, and Jim Parrott, fellow at the Urban Institute, shows the typical criminal tenant now owes $ 5,600 and is nearly four months behind their monthly payment. This also includes ancillary costs and late fees. In total, an astonishing $ 57.3 billion is owed. This includes all criminal tenants, not just those financially suffering from the Covid pandemic.
“Compared to tenants who make their rent payments on time, criminal tenants are currently more low-income, less educated, black and with children,” according to the authors of the analysis.
The $ 900 billion aid package passed in December provides $ 25 billion for both tenants and landlords. It is paid by the states and can be used for past and present rents, fees and charges. Renters must show that they have had financial difficulties due to the pandemic, have an income below 80% of their area median income, and are at risk of becoming homeless.
However, the analysis by Zandi and Parrott shows that it is not even close enough. If dispersed quickly, which is a big problem, the $ 25 billion would bring the numbers down by April. By March, about 6.3 million renters would be behind with payments, with a total arrears of about $ 33 billion. Then the numbers would increase again.
“Eviction is a serious option. Legislators deserve credit for these households not losing their homes. But they have to do more. Soon,” wrote Zandi and Parrott.
The Biden government proposed additional rent relief of $ 25 billion in its $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package. It includes an extension of the eviction moratorium until the end of September 2021. This plan is already criticized by Republicans and even some Democrats as being far too expensive. It remains to be seen whether cuts to this plan would result from the rent relief.
In addition, the CDC’s eviction moratorium is under fire from both tenants and landlords.
“Extending the eviction moratorium alone is not enough,” wrote Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “The existing moratorium is flawed and some landlords use loopholes to evict tenants despite the protection. No federal authority enforces the Order’s penalties for illegal evictions.”
The NLIHC, along with approximately 2,000 national, state and local organizations, signed a letter Sent to Biden for additional relief and enforcement.
Meanwhile, landlords, many of whom are struggling to pay the mortgages on their properties, fear that extending the eviction moratorium through September would do more harm than good.
“Allocated rental support funds do not fully cover outstanding debt of $ 70 billion and future debts. The industry simply cannot continue to operate under these guidelines without disastrously affecting housing affordability,” said a statement of the National Multifamily Housing Council.