Pandemic’s Conclusion Empowers Landlords to Evict Renters, Adding to the Exacerbation of the Homelessness Crisis

**Eviction Crisis: Millions Face Housing Insecurity Across the U.S.**

**Rising Eviction Filings Post-Pandemic**

Entering court using a walker, 70-year-old Dana Williams pleaded to delay eviction from his Atlanta apartment, citing his serious medical conditions. Despite sympathy from the judge, Williams and his 25-year-old daughter were evicted in April for owing $8,348 in unpaid rent and fees. Since then, they have been living in a dilapidated hotel room with no basic amenities. Their situation is just one example of the millions of tenants across the U.S. who are facing eviction or have already been evicted. After a lull during the pandemic, eviction filings by landlords have surged due to rising rents and a shortage of affordable housing.

**End of Protections and Rising Homelessness**

As pandemic resources that kept low-income tenants housed have disappeared, many are finding it difficult to recover. Steady work is hard to come by, and wages have not kept pace with the rising cost of living. As a result, homelessness is on the rise. The absence of federal moratoriums and dwindling emergency rental assistance funds have left vulnerable renters in an even worse situation than before the pandemic.

**Surge in Eviction Filings**

Eviction filings have increased significantly across the country. According to the Eviction Lab, filings are more than 50% higher than the pre-pandemic average in several cities. Houston saw a 56% increase in April and a 50% increase in May. Minneapolis/St. Paul experienced rates that rose by 106% in March, 55% in April, and 63% in May. Other cities, such as Nashville, Phoenix, and Rhode Island, also witnessed significant rises in eviction filings.

**Rental Market Challenges**

Rent prices have also soared across the nation, with a 5% increase compared to a year ago and a staggering 30.5% increase since 2019. The lack of affordable housing options exacerbates the problem, with a 7.3 million shortfall of affordable units estimated by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

**Disappearing Safety Nets**

Many vulnerable tenants have been able to avoid eviction due to the safety nets put in place during the pandemic. Moratoriums temporarily halted evictions, and emergency rental assistance provided financial support for rent. However, these resources have been depleted or allocated, and calls for additional assistance have not been successful in Congress.

**Surging Evictions and Homelessness**

As moratoriums have ended and rental assistance has dried up, eviction rates are surging to pre-pandemic levels. Individuals like 79-year-old Maria Jackson, a massage therapist in Las Vegas, have lost their livelihoods and homes due to the economic effects of the pandemic. The lack of governmental capacity to provide assistance to those facing eviction is a growing concern in areas that have seen a sudden increase in evictions.

**Challenges in New York and Texas**

In upstate New York, eviction filings have been rising since the lifting of the moratorium. Forty of the state’s 62 counties experienced higher eviction filings in 2022 compared to before the pandemic. Advocates had hoped for legislation that would require landlords to justify evictions and limit rent increases, but these measures were not included in the state budget. In Texas, there were record-breaking eviction filings in 2022. The state legislature had the opportunity to allocate some of the $32 billion budget surplus into rental assistance, but unfortunately, no relief measures have been passed.

**Permanent Protections and Their Impact**

Although the eviction crisis continues to worsen, some pandemic protections have become permanent and are having a positive impact on eviction rates. Nationwide, 200 measures have passed since January 2021, including legal representation for tenants, sealing eviction records, and mediation programs. These measures have significantly reduced eviction filings in cities like New York City and Philadelphia. In New York City, the right-to-counsel program and the non-prosecution of rent arrears cases have helped keep filings down by 41% below pre-pandemic levels. In Philadelphia, 70% of participants in the eviction diversion program found resolution, and the city allocated $30 million in assistance for those with less than $3,000 in arrears.

**Hopelessness and the Future**

For individuals like Dana Williams and his daughter, living conditions are bleak. Without even basic amenities in their hotel room, they must rely on pizza delivery and vending machine snacks. Williams misses the days when he could host his grandchildren in his old apartment. Their situation is indicative of the dire circumstances faced by millions across the country who are in need of safe and affordable housing.

In conclusion, as eviction filings continue to surge and rental prices rise, individuals and families across the U.S. find themselves at risk of homelessness. With limited resources and government assistance, the eviction crisis remains a pressing issue that requires immediate attention and action from policymakers.

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