Evictions spiking as assistance, protections disappear

Aug 9, 2022, 6:35 PM | Updated: Aug 10, 2022, 7:04 am
Jada Riley sits in her car at night with her son Jayden Harris, 6, as she contemplates where she mi...

Jada Riley sits in her car at night with her son Jayden Harris, 6, as she contemplates where she might spend the night, having had to move out of her apartment a few days before, Thursday, July 28, 2022, in New Orleans. “I've slept outside for a whole year before. It's very depressing, I'm not going to lie,” said Riley, who often doesn't have enough money to buy gas or afford food every day. “I don't want to have my son experience any struggles that I went through.” (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Jada Riley thought she had beaten homelessness.

The 26-year-old New Orleans resident was finally making a steady income cleaning houses during the pandemic to afford a $700-a-month, one-bedroom apartment. But she lost nearly all her clients after Hurricane Ida hit last year. Then she was fired from a grocery store job in February after taking time off to help a relative.

Two months behind on rent, she made the difficult decision last month to leave her apartment rather than risk an eviction judgment on her record. Now, she’s living in her car with her 6-year-old son, sometimes spending nights at the apartments of friends or her son’s father.

“I’ve slept outside for a whole year before. It’s very depressing, I’m not going to lie,” said Riley, who often doesn’t have enough money to buy gas or afford food every day.

“I don’t want to have my son experience any struggles that I went through.”

Eviction filings nationwide have steadily risen in recent months and are approaching or exceeding pre-pandemic levels in many cities and states. That’s in stark contrast to the pandemic, when state and federal moratoriums on evictions, combined with $46.5 billion in f ederal Emergency Rental Assistance, kept millions of families housed.

“I really think this is the tip of the iceberg,” Shannon MacKenzie, executive director of Colorado Poverty Law Project, said of June filings in Denver, which were about 24% higher than the same time three years ago. “Our numbers of evictions are increasing every month at an astonishing rate, and I just don’t see that abating any time soon.”

According to The Eviction Lab, several cities are running far above historic averages, with Minneapolis-St. Paul 91% higher in June, Las Vegas up 56%, Hartford, Connecticut, up 32%, and Jacksonville, Florida, up 17%. In Maricopa County, home to Phoenix, eviction filings in July were the highest in 13 years, officials said.

Some legal advocates said the sharp increase in housing prices due to inflation is partly to blame. Rental prices nationwide are up nearly 15% from a year ago and almost 25% from 2019, according to the real estate company Zillow. Rental vacancy rates, meanwhile, have declined to a 35-year low of 5.8%, according to the Census Bureau.

A report last month from the National Low Income Housing Coalition found that a tenant working full time needs to make nearly $26 per hour on average nationally to afford a modest two-bedroom rental and $21.25 for a one-bedroom. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

“Landlords are raising the rent and making it very unaffordable for tenants to stay,” said Marie Claire Tran-Leung, the eviction initiative project director for the National Housing Law Project.

“Inflation has really shrunk the supply of housing that is available for people with the lowest incomes,” she added. “Without more protections in place, which not all states have, a lot of those families will be rendered homeless.”

Patrick McCloud, chief executive officer of the Virginia Apartment Management Association, said the trend is a return to normal. “No one likes evictions, but they are in some ways a reset to the economy,” McCloud said, adding that evictions have been “artificially depressed.”

“Housing is based on supply and demand. And when no one moves and you have no vacancies, you have a tight market and prices go up.”

Graham Bowman, a staff attorney with Legal Aid Society of Columbus, Ohio, said evictions there are rising — 15% above historic averages in June alone — at a time when there are fewer places for those forced out to go.

Sheryl Lynne Smith was evicted in May from her two-bedroom townhouse in Columbus after she used her rent money to repair a sewage leak in the basement. Smith, who is legally blind and has a federal housing voucher, fears she won’t be able to find anything by September when the voucher expires because of rising housing prices and the eviction on her record.

“It’s very scary,” said Smith, 53, whose temporary stay at a hotel funded through a state program ends this weekend.

In Boise, Idaho, Jeremy McKenney, 45, moved into his car last week after a judge sided with a property management company that nearly tripled the rent on his two-bedroom house. The Lyft and DoorDash driver will have to rent a hotel room whenever he has custody of his children, 9 and 12.

“It’s definitely mind blowing,” said McKenney, adding that everything on the market is beyond his reach even after a nonprofit offered to cover the security deposit. “I have never been homeless before. I have always had a roof over my head.”

The other challenge is the federal emergency rental assistance that helped keep millions housed during the pandemic has dried up in some jurisdictions or been increasingly rejected by some landlords.

“What really gets me is there is rental assistance and so many landlords just don’t want it. They would rather throw someone on the street than take money,” Eric Kwartler, managing attorney of Lone Star Legal Aid’s Eviction Right to Counsel Project, which covers Houston and Harris County in Texas. “If you take the money, you can’t evict them. They want them out.”

The U.S. Treasury said last week that more than $40 billion of the $46.5 billion in Emergency Rental Assistance had been spent or allocated.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Virginia have gone through at least 90% of their first disbursement. Twelve states and the District of Columbia had used 50% of the second allocation, known as ERA2, by the end of May. Three — Idaho, Ohio and Iowa — haven’t spent any ERA2 money and two — Nebraska and Arkansas — didn’t accept the funds.

“The public health emergency may still be here but the funds to deal with it are rapidly disappearing,” said Martin Wegbreit, director of litigation for the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society.

Treasury is encouraging states and cities to tap other federal stimulus funds to cover the gaps. So far, over 600 state and local governments had budgeted $12.9 billion in stimulus funds to meet housing needs, including affordable housing development.

Gene Sperling, who oversees President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package, highlighted the success of its rental assistance program, which has reached 7 million mostly low-income households.

But, more needs to be done to ensure the country doesn’t return to pre-pandemic times when 3.6 million tenants were evicted annually and “evictions were too often a first resort, not a last resort,” he told a forum on eviction reforms at the White House last week.

Some lawmakers said the answer is a permanent rental assistance program. A bill introduced in July would provide $3 billion annually for rental assistance and fund services to keep families housed. A study commissioned by the National Apartment Association and the National Multifamily Housing Council says the answer is building 4.3 million apartments by 2035.

Other advocates called for permanent legal protections like right to counsel for tenants or eviction diversion programs to resolve evictions before they reach the courts.

In Richmond, Virginia, eviction filings in June were 54% below historic averages, attributed to rental assistance and more legal representation for tenants in court, Wegbreit said. Similar programs were credited with New Mexico’s eviction filings being 29% below historic averages in June.

Philadelphia, which passed a law making eviction diversion mandatory through this year, saw filings down 33%. The City Council in Philadelphia also approved spending $30 million over two years for rental assistance.

“We are trying to change the way we look at this issue in Philadelphia, where the only thing you do is go to landlord tenant court or start an eviction,” said Catherine Anderson, supervising attorney with Philadelphia Legal Assistance, who oversees the paralegals on the Save Your Home Philly hotline.

___

Associated Press writers Jesse Bedayn in Denver, Ben Finley in Norfolk, Virginia, and Claudia Lauer in Philadelphia contributed to this report

__

This story has been corrected to show that McKenney is from Boise, Idaho, not Boise, Utah.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembl...
Associated Press

They said it: Leaders at the UN, in their own words

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Many leaders saying many things about many topics that matter to them, to their regions, to the world: That’s what the U.N. General Assembly invariably produces each year. And each year, certain voices dominate. Here, The Associated Press takes the opposite approach and spotlights some thoughts — delivered universally from the […]
20 hours ago
Foreign Minister of Belarus Vladimir Makei addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General...
Associated Press

Belarus foreign minister blames NATO, West for Ukraine war

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — In the eyes of Belarus’ foreign minister, the root cause of the war in Ukraine dates back 30 years ago to the end of the Cold War. At that time, there was no official treaty — just a “gentlemen’s agreement” that opened a path for the West to secure its domination, […]
20 hours ago
In this photo released by United Launch Alliance, a classified satellite for the U.S. National Reco...
Associated Press

US spy satellite launched into orbit from California

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) — A classified satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office launched into orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy rocket on Saturday. The NROL-91 spy satellite lifted off at 3:25 p.m. from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California’s Santa Barbara County. It was the last launch of […]
20 hours ago
People watch a news program showing a file image of a missile launch by North Korea at the Seoul Ra...
Associated Press

South Korea says North Korea test-fired missile toward sea

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile Sunday toward its eastern seas, extending a provocative streak in weapons testing as a U.S. aircraft carrier visits South Korea for joint military exercises in response to the North’s growing nuclear threat. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile launched from […]
20 hours ago
This photo provided by Buckingham Palace on Saturday Sept. 24, 2022 shows the ledger stone at the K...
Associated Press

Palace reveals ledger stone at queen’s final resting place

LONDON (AP) — Buckingham Palace released a photo Saturday giving the first public glimpse of the new ledger stone installed at the final resting place of Queen Elizabeth II. The image shows the hand-carved Belgian black marble slab with brass letter inlays set into the floor of King George VI Memorial Chapel, St. George’s Chapel, […]
20 hours ago
Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud addresses the 77th session of the...
Associated Press

Saudi Arabia’s triumphant week reclaims the West’s embrace

NEW YORK (AP) — Saudi Arabia appears to be leaving behind the stream of negative coverage that the killing of Jamal Khashoggi elicited since 2018. The kingdom is once again being enthusiastically welcomed back into polite and powerful society, and it is no longer as frowned upon to seek Saudi investments or accept their favor. […]
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Evictions spiking as assistance, protections disappear