As new cases of COVID-19 cases continue to skyrocket across the countries, many cities and states are beginning to roll back re-opening plans and re-issue stay-at-home orders. As if that wasn’t enough of a calamity, tens of millions of Americans (up to 28 million!) will soon be at risk of being evicted from their homes and not having anywhere to go in the middle of a deadly pandemic. Combined with a federal government unwilling to provide any further relief, we’re on the verge of a historic catastrophe.
Here’s where things stand right now:
While most cities and states issued eviction moratoriums at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, those orders have begun to expire and many more will be over by the end of July. While a federal government pause on kicking people out of Fannie and Freddie Mac-backed buildings doesn’t run out until August 31st, it only covers about 30 to 40% of renters, and as The Washington Post reported last week, it’s been largely up to residents to figure out if they’re qualified; only 15 states require landlords to verify it. Elsewhere, landlords have been caught pursuing evictions despite their residents being technically protected, and because they’re generally the ones with attorneys at these hearings, it often works.
For those who owe back rent, things are only going to get worse. The enhanced unemployment benefits provided by the CARES Act expire at the end of the month, and as of now, neither Donald Trump nor Mitch McConnell seems willing to continue them in any significant way. Economists suggest that would be disastrous, especially with states starting to close up again and the economy at risk of a further major collapse (but as we know, they don’t care). With only a few states and cities having extended their eviction moratoriums, we’re barrelling toward a head-on collision. Already, 32% of Americans haven’t made their July housing payments. And as with everything else in the US, the looming crises will disproportionately impact Black and brown people.
This week at Progressives Everywhere, instead of asking you to donate to an (amazing) candidate or policy ballot initiative, I’m raising money for an even more urgent situation. We can’t wait until new lawmakers are sworn in next year to deal with the imminent eviction crisis, especially in the middle of this resurgent pandemic. Below are a number of non-profits working to keep people in their homes through legal aid, grants, and other tactics. Any help you can offer will make a huge difference.
Coalition for the Homeless (NYC)
Eviction filings began in New York City in June, with an estimated 50,000 or more already primed for submission and execution once the moratorium lifts. To assist in eviction protection, The Coalition for the Homeless provides one-time $1000 cash grants to people who are behind on rent and facing eviction, but with some help, would be able to recover and pay rent in the future. The organization also assists those in need by helping them access funds from other non-profits and government programs.
Eviction Defense Network (LA)
The LA-based organization is a community non-profit made up of lawyers and advocates who provide advice and legal representation to anyone facing eviction in the downtown LA courthouse and counseling to anyone in LA County.
Through expertise, mediation, legal services, and financial grants, HomeStart helps families who are at risk of losing their homes avoid eviction and being forced into shelters.
This program works with landlords and tenants alike to provide matching-fund grants that help residents in less affluent communities catch up on rent and stay in their homes. The fund offers two payments of up to $750 each.
Community Advocates (Milwaukee)
Community Advocates provides over 30 different programs and services for the neediest members of the community. This includes eviction prevention and rental assistance. Evictions have already started in Wisconsin, making this one of the most essential organizations to help right now.
Legal Services of Greater Miami (Miami, FL)
A non-profit collection of pro bono lawyers who offer free legal counsel and representation to low-income community members in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties. Before 2020, they helped 20,000 clients a year; this year, demand for their work should rise exponentially.