Tell Congress NC Needs Eviction Protection and Housing Relief
Dear [title] [last name],
According to the Census Bureau, nearly one in five renters – disproportionately Black and Latino households – are behind on their rent. Experts estimate that these households already owe between $34 billion to $70 billion in back-rent. Without continued federal intervention, up to 30 million to 40 million renters could lose their homes. In the midst of a public health crisis, it is critical that families have a home in which to shelter to prevent further spread. To meet this incredible challenge, we need both increased eviction protections and accompanying housing assistance that meets the scale of the need.
EXTEND AND IMPROVE THE CDC EVICTION MORATORIUM
The CDC eviction moratorium extends vital protections to renters at risk of eviction during the pandemic, and by doing so, it has helped keep millions of people stably-housed, who otherwise would have been evicted. Researchers have concluded that, had moratoriums been implemented as early as March 1, 2020 nationwide, it would have resulted in a 14.2% decrease in COVID-19 cases, and as high as a 40.7% drop in deaths.
The federal eviction moratorium does, however, have significant shortcomings that undermine its public health impact:.
- Evictions can still be filed, which often results in the displacement of a family before court proceedings begin. Families do not want an eviction on their record, which makes finding future housing much more difficult;
- The eligibility criteria are subject to challenge from the landlord; and
- While Governor Cooper’s executive order #191 recommends that landlords inform their tenants of these protections, there has been no uniform adoption of this practice.
Martha Mejia, the president of Garden Terrace Tenants Union in Durham, NC says, “Without a full eviction moratorium, we are still vulnerable. Many of our members are on month-to-month leases and the landlord has refused to give them longer-term leases. Our landlord understands the loopholes in the moratorium and is exploiting those loopholes to evict tenants who should be protected.” Keeping people housed is a public health necessity during these extraordinary times, and our public policy tools should reflect that.
SUPPORT COVID RELIEF PACKAGE THAT INCLUDES HOUSING ASSISTANCE THAT MEETS THE SCALE OF THE NEED
Keeping families in their homes through a moratorium is an emergency response to a public health crisis. In North Carolina, an estimated 316,000 households are behind on their rent. An eviction moratorium must be coupled with a robust federal relief package that meets the scale of the need, and an efficient and equitable process for allocating funds at the state level. Even with meeting immediate needs, families are still in crisis after months of being behind in rent and utilities (many falling behind at the onset of the pandemic in March of 2020). Lost rental payments have a significant impact on households - often, families are having to decide between catching up on back-rent and other vital expenses like electricity, water, groceries, and medicine. The impact then moves to landlords, who struggle with maintaining their mortgage payments if there is no rent being paid. Our local economies will continue to be in crisis as families and rental-property owners are not putting funds back into the community; like purchasing groceries and household necessities, or paying for medical and childcare.
We, the undersigned organizations, urge you to extend and improve the eviction moratorium, and to support a comprehensive relief package that includes housing assistance which will meet the scale of the need.
 “Housing Precarity & the COVID-19 Pandemic: Impacts of Utility Disconnection and Eviction Moratoria on Infections and Deaths Across US Counties,” Kay Jowers, Christopher Timmins, Nrupen Bhavsar, Qihui Hu & Julia Marshall. Jan. 25, 2021, National Bureau of Economic Research. DOI: 10.3386/w28394