Federal Rent Relief Is a Public Health Imperative

To ensure families stay in their homes and stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government should extend the CDC's eviction moratorium and other rent relief measures through the new year.

December 18, 2020, 7:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Suburban Pittsburgh

The CDC's eviction moratorium expires at the end of the year, but many renters still face housing insecurity. | Wade H. Massie / Shutterstock

To slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect families during the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) passed an eviction moratorium in September, prohibiting landlords from evicting renters facing financial hardship. The moratorium, set to expire at the end of the year, has provided a lifeline for families who face losing their homes.

Things haven't improved for much of the country. In November, a third of Americans said they feared facing eviction or foreclosure in the next few months. With the moratorium's expiration and the end of other financial support like extended unemployment benefits looming, many Americans face deep financial uncertainty in the new year. Without a renewed moratorium and rent relief, argues Mary K. Cunningham, people who owe back rent and those having trouble making rent payments will continue to face housing insecurity as we head deeper into winter. Even with the current moratorium in place, tens of thousands of evictions have still been filed during the pandemic as landlords seek out loopholes, and without full rent relief, many tenants are sinking deeper into debt.

Federal relief would also help small landlords who rent to low-income people of color, many of whom risk losing their properties to large companies. The accelerated loss of affordable housing to redevelopment could have a powerful impact on future housing availability for low- and middle-income families.

Friday, December 11, 2020 in Urban Wire

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