Evictions on the rise months after federal moratorium ends

Dec 15, 2021, 8:24 AM | Updated: Dec 16, 2021, 1:14 am
Freddie Davis, whose landlord raised his rent by 60 percent in the same month he lost his job as a ...

Freddie Davis, whose landlord raised his rent by 60 percent in the same month he lost his job as a truck driver, waits for a friend to arrive to help him move his remaining belongings to a storage unit, after receiving a final eviction notice at his one-bedroom apartment, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021, in Miami. "I never thought I'd be in this situation. I've been working my whole life," said Davis, who lost a leg to diabetes, suffers from congestive heart failure, and is recovering from multiple wounds on his other leg and foot. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

BOSTON (AP) — Soon after losing his trucking job amid the pandemic, Freddie Davis got another blow: His landlord in Miami was almost doubling the rent on his Miami apartment.

Davis girded for what he feared would come next. In September he was evicted — just over a month after a federal eviction moratorium ended. He’s now languishing in a hotel, aided by a nonprofit that helps homeless people.

The 51-year-old desperately wants to find a new apartment. But it’s proving impossible on his $1,000-a-month disability check.

“We live in America, and the thing is, people like me, we got to go to the street if we don’t have no other place to go because we can’t afford rent,” said Davis, who lost a leg to diabetes, suffers congestive heart failure and is recovering from multiple wounds on his other leg and foot. “I really can’t do nothing.”

The federal ban, along with a mix of state and federal moratoriums, is credited with keeping Davis and millions of others in their homes during the pandemic and preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

There was a brief lull in evictions filings after the ban ended. But housing advocates say they’re on the rise in many parts of the country — though numbers remain below pre-pandemic levels due to the infusion of federal rental assistance and other pandemic-related assistance like expanded child tax credit payments that are also set to end.

Part of the increase is due to courts catching up on the backlog of eviction cases. But advocates say the upsurge also shows the limits of federal emergency rental assistance in places where distribution remains slow and tenant protections are weak. Rising housing prices in many markets also are playing a role.

According to the latest data from the Eviction Lab at Princeton University, eviction filings have been rising in most of the 31 cities and six states where it collects data. They increased 10.4% from the first half of August to the first half of September. In the first half of October, numbers were 38% above August levels and 25% higher than in September. Filings fell around 7% from the first half of October to November and now remain about 48% below pre-pandemic levels.

Among places where eviction filings are returning to normal are Connecticut as well as Houston, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio, according to the Eviction Lab. Florida, too, has seen a significant rise, with filings in Tampa and Gainesville returning to near pre-pandemic levels.

“There was a batch of initial commentary coming out when the moratorium ended and the tone … was, well, there wasn’t a tsunami so we don’t have an eviction crisis on our hands,” said Ben Martin, senior researcher at Texas Housers, a nonprofit focused on housing issues.

“That initial narrative was somewhat misleading. What we are seeing is a reflection of reality, which is that evictions take time to work their way into and through the court system.”

Among the concerns is that some landlords who got federal assistance are still evicting tenants. A survey of nearly 120 attorneys nationwide from the National Housing Law Project found 86% had seen cases like this. They also saw increasing instances of landlords lying in court to evict tenants and illegally locking out tenants.

“In many states, landlord tenant law is antiquated and designed to provide results for landlords,” said Shamus Roller, executive director of the National Housing Law Project. “Instead of adjudicating the facts, courts function as conveyor belts, moving tenants toward eviction.”

Among those who contend they were illegally evicted is Faye Moore. The 72-year-old returned home from work in October to find her life spread out on the sidewalk.

Behind several thousand dollars rent on her two-bedroom townhouse in an Atlanta suburb, Moore figured she would get the chance to present her case to a judge, including that management refused to take her rent money for months and that she was given no notice before she was evicted.

“I’m devastated. It was a house full of furniture. Everything,” said Moore, a retired mental health therapist who is now staying in a hotel with her 61-year-old partner, Garry Betared. “It was like a storm came in and devastated everything. I can’t find my important papers or anything.”

Cicely Murray, a HUD housing counselor with the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America who is working with Moore, was most upset that the couple was evicted without a court hearing and forced to fend for themselves.

“I’m angry that anyone would put an elderly couple out without trying to figure out what resources are there,” Murray said. “We are still in a pandemic. … You are putting people in precarious situations who are some of the most fragile.”

As Christmas approaches, there are plenty of signs that eviction cases will keep rising.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, those saying they weren’t confident of paying next month’s rent increased from about 5 million at the end of September to 6.3 million in the latest data.

Landlords, especially smaller ones who own a handful of apartments, have also struggled. They believed the moratorium was illegal and saddled them with months of back rent they may never get back. Others were forced to lay off maintenance staff or sell units as they awaited federal rental assistance that was slow to be distributed.

Some localities have lagged behind in getting out their portion of the $46.5 billion in federal Emergency Rental Assistance. According to a November report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, 28% of grantees — 32 states and 80 localities — spent less than 30% of their first allocation of money and risk losing those funds.

Among them is Nebraska, which spent only 6% of its funding through September and just 7% through October. Some landlords are refusing to take part in the program, said Caitlin Cedfeldt, a staff attorney at Legal Aid of Nebraska, while others have grown tired of waiting and are moving to evict. Tenants, some of whom got initial help but still face economic hardship, are being told they can’t yet reapply for additional help.

Missouri only spent 18% of its funding through September but has since improved.

“We have so much more work to do,” U.S. Rep. Cori Bush, a St. Louis Democrat, said, citing data showing that evictions during the pandemic “have taken lives.”

There are some states and local governments that “feel, ‘We don’t want this money. We don’t want this federal aid,” she said. “And, we have some landlords who say that they don’t want the money as well. So that makes it harder for the money to be dispersed.”

Gene Sperling, who is charged with overseeing implementation of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package, said some increase in evictions was inevitable after the ban ended. “But fortunately because the Emergency Rental Assistance program is now paying full back-rent to about 500,000 renters each month, the eviction tsunami that experts feared has not occurred,” he said.

On the flip side are states and cities running out of rental assistance. The Treasury Department expects that upwards of $30 billion, or about two-thirds of the money, will have been spent or allocated by the end of the year. As the law dictates, Treasury is expected to begin reallocating funds from places not spending it to those in need.

Texas has stopped accepting new applicants because it has allocated all its funds, though it continues to process applications received before the deadline. Oregon has stopped taking new applicants for now.

The state of New York has spent or committed nearly all of its money, as has Philadelphia. California will soon exhaust its funds, while Atlanta has closed its program to new applicants. Austin, Texas, also stopped taking applications.

“It’s particularly concerning that a number of these programs are now shutting down because all funds have been expended or obligated,” said Peter Hepburn, research fellow at the Eviction Lab.

“If that funding gets removed, landlords may have less incentive to work with tenants.”


Associated Press writers Adriana Gomez in Miami and Jim Salter in O’Fallon, Missouri, contributed to this report.

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


FILE - The Pfizer logo is displayed at the company's headquarters, Feb. 5, 2021, in New York. The F...
Associated Press

US allows pharmacists to prescribe Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Pharmacists can prescribe the leading COVID-19 pill directly to patients under a new U.S. policy announced Wednesday that’s intended to expand use of Pfizer’s drug Paxlovid. The Food and Drug Administration said pharmacists can begin screening patients to see if they are eligible for Paxlovid and then prescribe the medication, which has […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Reports: Law enforcement officers shoot man on W.Va. highway

BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) — Several law enforcement authorities shot a man on a federal highway in West Virginia, news outlets reported Wednesday, and video of the shooting was circulating on social media. Authorities did not release details or respond to requests for more information. In the video, the man walks onto the four-lane freeway near […]
19 hours ago
FILE - White House counsel Pat Cipollone departs the U.S. Capitol following defense arguments in th...
Associated Press

Trump White House counsel Cipollone to testify to 1/6 panel

WASHINGTON (AP) — Pat Cipollone, Donald Trump’s former White House counsel, is scheduled to testify Friday before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to a person briefed on the matter. Cipollone, whose reported resistance to Trump’s schemes to overturn his 2020 election defeat has made him a long-sought […]
19 hours ago
FILE - Tonya Isabell, left, speaks on June 18, 2020, during a vigil for her cousin Charleena Lyles,...
Associated Press

Inquest: Seattle police shooting of pregnant woman justified

SEATTLE (AP) — An inquest jury found Wednesday that two Seattle police officers were justified in fatally shooting a mentally unstable, pregnant, Black mother of four children inside her apartment when she menaced them with knives in 2017. The six King County coroner’s inquest jurors unanimously determined that officers Jason Anderson and Steven McNew, who […]
19 hours ago
Yesenia Hernandez, granddaughter to Nicolas Toledo, who was killed during Monday's Highland Park., ...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: Should red-flag law have stopped parade shooting?

CHICAGO (AP) — Days after a rooftop gunman killed seven people at a parade, attention has turned to how the assailant obtained multiple guns and whether the laws on Illinois books could have prevented the Independence Day massacre. Illinois gun laws are generally praised by gun-control advocates as tougher than in most states. But they […]
19 hours ago
Tents are shown Wednesday, July 6, 2022, inside Centennial Park in Anchorage, Alaska. State wildlif...
Associated Press

4 bears killed in Alaska campground reserved for homeless

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska wildlife officials have killed four black bears in a campground recently reserved for people in Anchorage who are homeless after the city’s largest shelter was closed. Employees from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game on Tuesday killed a sow and her two cubs and another adult bear that was […]
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
Evictions on the rise months after federal moratorium ends