ATLANTA (AP) – 70-year-old Dana Williams, who has severe heart disease, high blood pressure and asthma, walks into court with a doctor’s note in her hand and walks into a two-bedroom room in Atlanta. I appealed to delay the eviction from the apartment.
While the judge was sympathetic, Williams and her 25-year-old daughter, Demai Williams, were owed $8,348 in unpaid rent and fees for a $940-per-month apartment, and state law forced them to evict in April. said there is.
They have been living in limbo ever since.
They moved into a dilapidated hotel room in Atlanta with water dripping from the bathroom ceiling, broken furniture, and no refrigerator or microwave. But $275 a week was barely enough for Williams’ $900 a month Social Security checks and the $800 her daughter received every other week from state agencies as her father’s caretaker.
“I don’t want to be here until his birthday,” Demai Williams said in August. “Given his health, that’s not right.”
The Williams family is among millions of tenants who have been evicted or threatened with eviction, from New York State to Las Vegas.
After a lull during the pandemic, eviction claims by landlords have surged again on the back of rising rents and a prolonged shortage of affordable housing. Most low-income residents are no longer able to rely on the pandemic resources that kept their homes up, and find it difficult to bounce back because they can’t find regular jobs or wages haven’t kept up with rising rent and food costs. Many people feel that way. other necessities.
As a result, homelessness is increasing.
“Protections are over, federal moratoriums are clearly over, and emergency rent assistance funds have dried up in most places,” said Daniel Grubbs-Donovan, a research expert at the Princeton University Eviction Institute.
“The massive rent increases during the pandemic, inflation and other financial hardships associated with the pandemic era have left low-income renters nationwide in an even worse situation than they were pre-pandemic.”
Some cities have seen eviction applications rise more than 50% above pre-pandemic averages, according to the Eviction Lab, which tracks eviction applications in about 34 cities and 10 states. Landlords file about 3.6 million eviction lawsuits each year.
Houston was hit hardest, with rates rising 56% in April and 50% in May. Paul in Minneapolis/St. Paul, interest rates rose 106% in March, 55% in April and 63% in May. In May, Nashville was up 35% and Phoenix was up 33%. Rhode Island rose 32% in May.
The latest data reflects a trend that began last year, finding nearly 970,000 eviction applications in areas tracked by the Eviction Lab, which saw large parts of the country put on eviction moratoriums. It increased by 78.6% compared to 2021 when the measures were taken. By December, the number of eviction requests had nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels.
At the same time, rent prices across the country rose about 5% compared to a year ago and 30.5% compared to 2019, according to real estate firm Zillow. The National Low-Income Housing Coalition estimates there is a shortage of affordable housing at 7.3 million units across the country, leaving few destinations for displaced residents.
Without the safety nets created during the pandemic, many vulnerable tenants would have been evicted long ago.
The federal government and many states and local governments issued moratoriums pending evictions during the pandemic. Most are finished now. He also put $46.5 billion into federal emergency rent assistance, which helps tenants pay rent and funds other tenant protections. Much of that has been spent or allocated, and calls for additional funding have failed to gain support in Congress.
Democratic US Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts said, “The alarming rise in evictions to pre-pandemic levels means that all levels of government will act to keep people safe. It’s a worrying reminder of the need,” he said, urging parliament to pass it. The bill would crack down on illegal evictions, fund legal aid for tenants, and keep evictions off credit reports.
Housing courts are full again, trapping people like 79-year-old Maria Jackson.
Jackson has built a loyal clientele as a massage therapist for nearly 20 years in Las Vegas, which has one of the fastest-growing eviction filings in the nation. It evaporated during the March 2020 pandemic-induced closure. Her business collapsed. She sold her car and applied for food stamps.
She was in arrears on monthly rent of $1,083 for her one-bedroom apartment and was evicted in March after paying $12,489 in arrears. She moved in with a former client of hers about an hour northeast of Las Vegas.
“Who could have imagined that this could happen to someone who has worked all his life?” Jackson asked.
Last month, she found a $400 a month room in Las Vegas, paid for with $1,241 a month Social Security checks. “I’m one of the lucky ones,” she said, even though it’s not her home.
“I may be in a tent or shelter now.”
In upstate New York, evictions have increased since the moratorium was lifted last year. Forty of the state’s 62 counties have more eviction requests in 2022 than pre-pandemic, and two counties have more than doubled eviction requests compared to 2019.
“How do we care for displaced populations when capacity is not in place and ready to deploy in places where evictions have been infrequent lately?” Cornell University said Russell Weaver, who tracks evictions statewide in his lab.
Housing advocates hope Democratic-led state legislatures pass legislation requiring landlords to provide justification for tenant evictions and cap rent increases at 3% or 1.5 times inflation. Was. But the bill has been left out of the state budget and lawmakers were unable to pass it before the legislature closed this month.
“The legislature should have fought harder,” said tenant organizer Oscar Brewer, who was being evicted from his Rochester apartment with his six-year-old daughter.
In Texas, evictions were curtailed during the pandemic with federal assistance and moratoriums. But as protection waned, home prices soared in places like Austin and Dallas, leading to a record 270,000 eviction applications statewide in 2022.
Proponents had hoped the state legislature would bail out some of the $32 billion budget surplus for rent subsidies. But that didn’t happen.
“It’s a big mistake to miss a shot here,” said Ben Martin, director of research at the nonprofit Texas Housers. “If we don’t address it, the crisis will get worse.”
Still, some pandemic measures have become permanent, affecting eviction rates. According to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, 200 measures have been passed since January 2021, including legal representation of tenants, sealing eviction records, and mediation to settle cases before litigation.
These measures are believed to have curbed eviction requests in several cities, including New York City and Philadelphia, with the former 41% below pre-pandemic levels in May and the latter 33%. fell below
The right to speak to an attorney program and the fact that housing courts do not prosecute cases involving rental housing residents are among the factors that keep New York City’s lawsuits low.
In Philadelphia, 70% of the more than 5,000 tenants and landlords who participated in the eviction conversion program have settled their cases. The city also secured $30 million in subsidies for residents renting less than $3,000 and launched an attorney’s rights program that doubles tenant representative fees.
The future doesn’t look so bright for Williams and her daughter, who remain trapped in a dimly lit hotel room. Without a microwave or even a nearby grocery store, they rely on delivery pizzas and snacks from hotel vending machines.
Williams used to love having her six grandchildren over for dinner at her old apartment, but those days are long gone.
“I just want to be able to entertain my grandchildren,” he said, coughing violently. “I just want to live in a place where they can come and sit and hang out with me.”
Casey reported from Boston. Associated Press Las Vegas reporter Rio Yamato contributed.
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https://wgnradio.com/news/business-news/rising-rents-and-diminishing-aid-are-fueling-a-sharp-increase-in-evictions-in-many-us-cities/ Rising rents and declining subsidies have led to a surge in evictions in many U.S. cities. wagon radio 720