With the enhanced unemployment benefit and a federal eviction moratorium now expired, 24 million Americans say they will not be able to pay rent in August due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to USA Today, a U.S. Census Bureau survey shows 9.3 million American households have no chance to pay next month’s rent and another 14.3 million say they have a slight chance. When the survey was broken down by race, Black and Latino Americans are having the most trouble financially.
More than 20% (27.7%) of Black Americans who took the survey said could not pay their July rent. For August, that number jumps to 45.5%. For Latino Americans, the percentage of respondents who could not pay their July rent was 21.7%. However, for August that number jumps to 45.9%, the highest percentage by race.
As Republicans try to negotiate a new coronavirus relief package, experts warn the time to ward off an eviction and foreclosure crisis has almost run out.
“We’re about to fall off a massive cliff and see a major spike in evictions,” Alanna McCargo, vice president of housing finance policy at the Urban Institute told USA Today.
An eviction moratorium that covers renters living in buildings with federally backed mortgages expired Friday, and the additional $600 per week in coronavirus pandemic unemployment aid for most states ended Saturday. Now, unemployed Americans are losing what little help they were getting and can be pushed out of their homes.
These factors are the beginnings of what could be an unprecedented homelessness and health crisis.
“We’re really facing a situation that is not only a health crisis but becomes a major housing crisis when you start to see people losing their roofs in a pandemic that’s calling for you to stay at home as one of the prescriptions,” McCargo said.
The survey also logged the percentage of respondents who have experienced loss of employment income during the pandemic, another category led by Black and Latino Americans. Sixty-two percent of Latino Americans and 56.5% of Black Americans have seen a loss of income during the coronavirus pandemic. The percentage is also above 50% for Asian Americans (52.2%).
The disparities reflect an affordable housing crisis that has only grown since the great recession of 2008. Many families across the country that were spending between 30% and 50% of their income in rent in solid economic times are now being pushed to their last dollar.
“Our housing system reflects tremendous disparities in race. And people of color are most at risk for evictions,” Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition said. “These inequities are being compounded by COVID-19.”