- The federal eviction moratorium, which protects around 12 million renters from being evicted, is set to expire at midnight Friday.
- The moratorium was signed into law under the CARES Act, and while the House extended the protections under a $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed in May, Senate Republicans have not been able to agree to any further legislation leading up to several key deadlines.
- Now, millions of people will be forced to pay months of unpaid rent or risk being evicted.
- Here’s what you need to know about the federal eviction ban ending, what it might mean for you, and what resources are out there for those impacted.
As coronavirus cases continue to spike and renewed closures slow the already faltering U.S. economy, the federal protections that have prevented an estimated 12 million Americans from being evicted by their landlords are set to expire at midnight on Friday.
The eviction moratorium, which was signed into law in March as part of the $2 trillion CARES Act, protected nearly a third of U.S. renters who are residents of buildings and homes with federal mortgages.
Here’s what you need to know about the ending eviction prohibition, and what it means for renters.
What Happen’s When the Moratorium Ends?
Under the moratorium, landlords were prohibited from evicting tenants, but any unpaid rent continued to accumulate. With the eviction ban ending, millions of renters will now be forced to pay months of delayed rent or risk losing their homes during a pandemic and at a time when many are already struggling financially.
A recent U.S. census survey found that 23.7 million Americans—or one in three renters—had little or no confidence that they could pay next month’s rent. More than half of those people also said they had not paid their most recent month’s rent.
To make matters worse, the additional $600 a week in federal unemployment benefits that have helped millions of Americans make ends meet in the face of mass layoffs are set to expire by the end of next week.
In May, the House passed a $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill that would extend the benefits until next year, but in addition to declaring the bill dead on arrival, Senate Republicans have also said that the benefits must be much lower.
How low, however, has become one of several points of contention within the Republican Party, which is currently struggling to agree on the provisions for a last-minute coronavirus relief bill. For months, the party refused to take up any legislation on the matter, preferring instead to wait until they were closer to the deadlines outlined under the CARES Act.
Now that they are down to the wire to pass a bill before those deadlines expire, negotiations within the Republican Paty have been stalled due to divisions between the Senate GOP and the White House.
As a result, experts now say that both the delayed legislation and the cut in benefits could speed up potential evictions.
“We know renters have been struggling to pay their rent,” Samantha Batko, senior research associate at the Urban Institute told The Hill. “They’re generally lower incomes, have less assets to draw on, and work in industries that are subject to job loss.”
However, renters will still have a little time once the moratorium does end.
Landlords are still required to give renters 30 days’ notice before they can file an eviction complaint in court, meaning that even though the ban ends Friday, eviction paperwork will not be filed until late August. That could potentially give Congress more time to come up with a plan.
Will Every Renter Be Affected?
As noted before, the federal moratorium only applied to those who rent in buildings with a mortgage that has government backing. Additionally, some renters will still be protected under state and local eviction moratoriums. Under certain types of bans, landlords are also prevented from charging late fees or penalties.
While many of those moratoriums are not set to expire until August or September, some have already expired. According to the Eviction Lab, after local moratoriums expired, eviction filings went back to pre-pandemic levels almost immediately.
Unless both federal and local bans are extended, even more renters will face eviction in the coming months, according to an analysis by the Eviction Defense Project. The group found that of the 110 million Americans living in rental households, 20% are at risk of eviction by Sept. 30. Black and Hispanic renters are expected to be impacted the hardest.
What Can I Do If I Can’t Pay Rent?
If you are impacted by the federal ban ending and cannot pay your rent, experts suggest the first thing you do is tell your landlord and try to come up with a deal.
“A lot of landlords are willing to work with people in this situation. They would rather keep a tenant who can pay less than try to get someone new in,” Shamus Roller, executive director of the National Housing Law Project told the Washington Post.
Bob Pinnegar, the chief executive of the National Apartment Association, also told the Post that some property managers are providing help for their tenants, like waiving late fees.
Some states and cities have also created rent assistance programs to help people make up missed payments.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition has been tracking local rent relief programs on this page, where you can see if your state or city has any programs you can apply for.
If you want to look at some additional resources, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and mortgage loan company Fannie Mae have also set up pages with information for renters.
What Can I do If I’m Facing Eviction?
If you are facing eviction, you can seek the help of a legal-aid attorney, many of whom will assist you for free or a small fee. To find a legal-aid attorney, you can go to LawHelp.org or look up online resources and local housing rights groups in your area.
In addition to helping you navigate the confusing legal process, which varies by state, city, and even courthouse, a legal-aid attorney can also help you determine if your landlord is violating any federal programs by evicting you.
For example, earlier in the pandemic, the Federal Housing Finance Agency allowed property owners with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to temporarily skip some payments. As a result, landlords who have been able to skip paying their mortgages were barred from evicting renters or charging late fees while receiving that assistance.
The Legal Aid Justice Center has also created a page with resources in both Spanish and English regarding dealing with evictions during the pandemic.
Will Congress Do More to Help Address the Issue?
While Republican infighting continues to stall a much-needed coronavirus relief bill, Senate Democrats have proposed several plans to help renters, including some that had initially been outlined in the House bill passed back in May.
“Forcing thousands of people out of their homes during a pandemic will make a public health crisis worse,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Ma.), who, along with several other Democratic Senators, has been pushing for extending protections.
Among other things, the proposed legislation would expand the moratorium beyond the federal level and also extend it until next March. Notably, the plan would also mandate the creation of a rental assistance fund.
While Senate Republicans have broadly rejected the Democrat’s proposals, housing advocates have told reporters that they are hopeful Congress will act, because it is in their best interest to avoid a serious rental market crisis.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Hill) (Bloomberg)
Viral Photo of Crowded Reopened Georgia High School Sparks Concerns
- A viral photo showing students at North Paulding High School in Georgia walking in a crowded hallway without masks has sparked widespread concerns about schools reopening safely.
- According to BuzzFeed News, there is at least one football player that has tested positive for the coronavirus, as well as several staff members.
- Students who choose to not go to school can be suspended or expelled. Additionally, students who share content criticizing the school can be punished as well, and two have already been suspended for sharing photos of crowded halls, according to BuzzFeed.
- This school is just one of many in Georgia making headlines for seeing positive COVID-19 cases. In Cherokee County, there are four schools with confirmed cases that have forced dozens of students to quarantine within their first week back.
Viral Photo in North Paulding High School
When North Paulding High School in Georgia opened back up on Monday, kids were crammed in the hallway between classes, shoulder to shoulder, many without masks.
A photo that captured one of these crowded halls quickly went viral, prompting widespread outrage as it highlighted just one of several concerns many have about schools reopening throughout the state.
Paulding County Schools Superintendent Brian Otott addressed the photo in a letter early this week, claiming that it lacked larger context. Masks are not mandatory at North Paulding, as the school district said that the choice to wear a mask is a personal one, and claim enforcing a mandate is not realistic. Otott also said that students are not passing one another in the hallway to transmit COVID-19.
Health experts, however, do not believe this is true. With such close proximity and a lack of masks, transmission in situations like this is still possible. The school’s first day also comes as both new cases and deaths in the state of Georgia are in their peak. So far, the state has had a total of 186,395 cases and 3,899 deaths.
If that photo did not spark enough concerns, there is also already at least one confirmed coronavirus case on North Paulding’s football team. According to BuzzFeed News, footballers at the school are not the only ones at risk.
Teachers told the outlet that there are positive cases among the staff, including an employee who came into contact with most teachers while they were symptomatic. Still, the school will not confirm cases among employees for privacy reasons.
“That was exactly one week ago, so we are all waiting to see who gets sick next week,” one teacher told BuzzFeed.
Most who are nervous about attending school are left with essentially no other option than to face their fears and risk infection. Virtual learning was an option for students at North Paulding, but the limited slots filled up quickly. On top of this, BuzzFeed News learned from a set of parents who wanted to keep their son home upon seeing the photo, that any student who chooses to not attend school could face suspension or expulsion.
On top of this, the school made an announcement warning students that anyone who shared negative content about the school online would face disciplinary action. According to BuzzFeed News, two students have already been suspended for sharing now-viral photos of crowded halls.
North Paulding is not the only school in the state making headlines. In Cherokee County, a second grader tested positive for the virus on the first day of school. Now, their class of 20 students will be quarantining for 14 days.
On Wednesday, officials announced that three additional schools in the county had positive cases. Those cases involved a first grader, eighth grader, and Kindergarten teacher. Several students and staff at each of these schools now must undergo a two week quarantine as well.
Statewide, school officials are concerned about what the school year will look like.
“So long as COVID-19 runs rampant, there will be too many bodies in close quarters for us to co-exist in a traditional setting,” Dooly County Schools Superintendent Craig Lockhart telling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We are not ready to return to in-person schooling and be highly confident that we can protect employees and students.”
But on the other side of this, there are parents and students eager to get back to in person classes, either because they trust their school district to handle things well, or because online learning at home just was not working well for them.
“There is a really strong case for trying to reopen schools because there are so many benefits, both for children, not only academic benefits but health and social-emotional health, and also for families, many of whom are trying to get back to work to restart the economy,” Charlene Wong, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Duke School of Medicine also told the AJC.
Can Kids Spread the Virus?
Still, Wong believes that safety opening schools is complex and requires a multitude of safety measures. The risk is especially high because experts are still in the early stages of learning what role children play in spreading and getting this virus, especially in a crowded space like a school. Currently, most studies and research have not focused on children, so there is not enough data to prove anything just yet, despite the widespread belief that children are less likely to get and transmit the virus.
In fact, one case out of Georgia proves that idea wrong. One summer camp in Georgia was forced to close after there were 260 coronavirus cases on site, the majority of which came from people aged 17 and younger.
Another study done in South Korea concluded that while children nine and under do not transmit the virus as frequently as adults, the risk of them doing so still exists. That study also claims that people between the ages 10 and 19 actually spread COVID-19 at the same rate as adults.
See what others are saying: (BuzzFeed News) (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) (Washington Post)
NJ Woman Charged for Assaulting Staples Customer Who Asked Her to Correctly Wear a Mask
- New Jersey Police have charged 25-year-old Terri Thomas with second-degree aggravated assault for violently tossing a woman with a cane to the ground at a Staples store last Wednesday.
- Thomas attacked 54-year-old Margot Kagan for telling her to wear her face mask properly.
- Kagan, who police say had a liver transplant four months ago, was hospitalized and is recovering from a leg injury that required surgery as a result of the incident.
Police in New Jersey said Tuesday that they arrested and charged a woman caught on surveillance video attacking a fellow Staples customer who told her to correctly wear her mask.
The dispute happened inside a Hackensack Staples store last Wednesday when 54-year-old Margot Kagan was using the copy machine. Kagan, who police said had a liver transplant four months ago, noticed 25-year-old Terri Thomas walk by with her mask below her mouth.
Kagan told a local news station that she told Thomas, “You should really put a mask on,” and warned her that she was endangering everyone. However, the remarks made Thomas angry she reportedly began yelling.
The surveillance footage shows Thomas walking towards Kagan, who lifts her cane to keep Thomas away. Thomas then reaches for the cane and violently tosses Kagan to the ground.
Thomas walks out of view for a few seconds and when she returns, Kagan sticks her leg out to trip Thomas, but Thomas ultimately walks away unharmed and leaves the store.
Injuries and Charges
Kagan was hospitalized after the attack and police said she left with a fractured left tibia that required surgery. However, Kagan later told ABC 7 she suffered a broken knee and required a steel plate to be put in. She also claims she’s been told by doctors that she won’t be able to put weight on her leg for seven to 10 weeks.
As far as Thomas, police have charged her with second-degree aggravated assault and she was released on a summons pending a court appearance on August 24. In New Jersey, the charge is punishable by 5-10 years in jail, and fines as high as $150,000.
Hackensack police are encouraging anyone who witnessed the crime or have any information to reach out to them.
Aurora Police Apologize for Drawing Weapons on Black Family in Mistaken Stop
- Police drew guns on a Black family in Aurora, Colorado on Sunday who they believed were in a stolen vehicle, ordering the group out of the car and facedown down on the ground.
- The passengers were girls between the ages of 6 and 17 and video shows them sobbing in fear during the incident, with at least two minors in handcuffs.
- The adult female driver was able to confirm that the car was not stolen and police explained that the car had the same plate information as a car reported stolen in a different state. They also blamed the mixup on the fact that the family’s car was reported stolen earlier this year, even though Aurora police returned it back to them a day later.
- The city’s new police chief apologized and offered them therapy resources. She also said officers followed protocol but should be allowed to use discretion to deviate in situations like this and has ordered her team to look at new training practices.
Police in Aurora, Colorado apologized Monday for drawing weapons on a Black family after mistaking their car for another stolen vehicle.
On Sunday, August 2, Brittney Gilliam decided to take her 6-year-old daughter, 12-year-old sister, and 14 and 17-year-old nieces out to get their nails done. Gilliam told CNN that her niece had just gotten back in the car after looking to see if the nail salon they wanted to go to was open. At this point, she and the girls were parked in a parking lot with the car turned off.
That’s when Aurora police pulled up behind the vehicle with guns drawn. Then, police allegedly yelled at the group to put their hands out of the window and get out of the car.
She said the family exited the vehicle and were told to lay face down on the ground. At that time, police handcuffed Gilliam, her 12-year-old sister, and 17-year-old niece. Gilliam claims that police would not explain why she was pulled over until she was handcuffed. Then, they pulled her away to verify her claim that the car was not stolen as the children remained on the ground.
A bystander named Jennifer Wurtz began recorded the incident after the family was handcuffed. The footage is about 12 and a half minutes long, but a shorter minute in a half-second clip went viral on Twitter. That clip shows the minors facedown on the floor sobbing as police try to keep onlookers away.
Eventually, police sit the children up and in the longer video, Wurtz can be heard pressing the officers about why they had drawn guns on children.
Police repeatedly asked her to stop interfering, however, they did say she had the right to film. Wurtz stopped pointing the phone towards the scene, but continued to criticize the stop and asked for the officers’ names.
As frustration from onlookers grew, one officer explained that this was a “high-risk stop” and that police were following procedure.
The onlookers were still angry about the policy being used against children and became angrier after learning that the car was in fact, not stolen.
What Caused the Confusion?
As far as what the mixup actually was, Gilliam explained that she had reported her car stolen in February, but that case was cleared up. In fact, her attorney told CNN that when her vehicle was stolen, it was actually returned to her the next day by Aurora police.
In a statement late Monday, Intern Chief of Police Vanessa Wilson said that after the stop, police realized the car Gilliam was driving was not stolen. Instead, another vehicle with the same plate information but from a different state had been. The Associated Press reported that the vehicle was a motorcycle from Montana.
In her statement, Wilson said “The confusion may have been due, in part, to the fact that the stopped car was reported stolen. After realizing the mistake, officers immediately unhandcuffed everyone involved, explained what happened and apologized.”
“I have called (Gilliam’s) family to apologize and to offer any help we can provide, especially for the children who may have been traumatized by yesterday’s events,” she continued. “I have reached out to our victim advocates so we can offer age-appropriate therapy that the city will cover.”
Outrage and Apology
Still, that did little to put the community at ease, especially since the incident comes amid widespread frustration over how Black people are treated by police. Frustrations are especially high in Aurora, where police have faced security for the 2019 death of Elijah McClain. McClain was an unarmed Black man who was stopped by officers as he walked home after he was reported as a suspicious person in a ski mask.
During the confrontation, officers placed him in a chokehold and paramedics injected him with ketamine to sedate him. He then suffered a heart attack in the ambulance and was declared brain dead days later before being taken off life support.
Just last month, two officers were fired for reenacting the chokehold in a photo near the memorial site for Elijah McClain A third officer was fired for not alerting supervisors about the photo while a fourth resigned before a disciplinary hearing about the incident.
So this latest incident piled on the existing outrage against the local department and police policies in general. And many, including Gilliam, felt that the stolen car mixup did not justify how the young girls were treated.
“That’s police brutality,” she told KUSA. “There’s no excuse why you didn’t handle it a different type of way. … You could have even told them, ‘Step off to the side let me ask your mom or your auntie a few questions so we can get this cleared up.’ ”
In her statement, Chief Wilson confirmed that a suspect in a stolen vehicle is a high-risk stop, and said officers followed procedures they are trained to carry out. However, she added that the department, “must allow our officers to have discretion and to deviate from this process when different scenarios present themselves.”
Wilson added that an internal investigation into this incident has been opened and said she had directed her team to look at new practices and training. Her promises to reexamine department practices are especially significant because that same Monday night, Aurora’s city council voted to make Wilson the city’s permanent police chief.