- 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)
Donald Trump and Eldest Three Children Hit With Fraud Lawsuit From New York AG
AG Letitia James says that the former president “falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself.”
Lawsuit Filed Against Trump
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced on Wednesday that she filed a civil lawsuit against former president Donald Trump and his three eldest children over allegations that they fraudulently inflated asset valuations within the Trump Organization.
Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump are all listed alongside their father in the lawsuit. Executives Jeffrey McConney and Allen Weisselberg, the latter of whom recently pled guilty to tax crimes, are also listed alongside other Trump businesses.
“Donald Trump, with the help of his children…and senior executives at the Trump Organization, falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to induce banks to lend money to the Trump Organization on more favorable terms than would otherwise have been available to the company, to satisfy continuing loan covenants, to induce insurers to provide insurance coverage for higher limits and at lower premiums, and to gain tax benefits, among other things,” a press release announcing the lawsuit claimed.
The Attorney General’s office claims that between 2011 and 2021, Trump and the Trump Organization made 200 false and misleading claims about asset values on annual financial statements.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in a State Supreme Court in Manhattan.
“The complaint demonstrates that Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself and to cheat the system, thereby cheating all of us,” James said while announcing the complaint.
Her office is seeking to permanently ban Trump and his children from serving as an officer or director in any New York corporation and to bar Trump and his organization from entering into any New York real estate acquisitions for five years. The office is also seeking to recover $250 million in penalty payments, among other forms of relief.
The Office of the Attorney General has also referred the matter to the federal attorneys in New York and to the IRS for criminal investigation.
“There aren’t two sets of laws for people in this nation: former presidents must be held to the same standards as everyday Americans,” James added in a statement on social media.
“Trump’s crimes are not victimless,” she continued. “When the well-connected and powerful break the law to get more money than they are entitled to, it reduces resources available to working people, small businesses, and taxpayers.”
Trump Allegedly Inflated Key Assets
According to James’ release, Trump “made known through Mr. Weisselberg that he wanted his net worth on his statements to increase every year.”
“And the statements were the vehicle by which his net worth was fraudulently inflated by billions of dollars year after year,” the release continued.
Among the assets Trump and his organization allegedly inflated was the Trump Tower Triplex, an apartment Trump allegedly claimed was 30,000 square feet when it is just around 11,000 square feet. Because of its ballooned size, the property was valued at $327 million in 2015, roughly three times as much as the sole apartment in New York City to ever sell for over $100 million at the time.
For further comparison, the highest sale for a listing in Trump Tower at the time was only $16 million.
Trump also allegedly claimed Mar-a-Lago was valued as high as $739 million based on the “false premise” that the property could be developed and sold for residential use. The lawsuit claims that Trump actually signed deeds donating those rights, limiting the property’s use to a social club. James and her office claim its value would fall closer to $75 million.
Inflated Clauations Cannot Be “Excused”
“The inflated asset valuations in the Statements cannot be brushed aside or excused as merely the result of exaggeration or good faith estimation about which reasonable real estate professionals may differ,” the lawsuit states, adding that instead, they are the result of improper methodology intentionally meant to falsely boost Trump’s net worth.
The investigation into Trump’s alleged fraud began nearly three years ago, and the former president has repeatedly called it a politically motivated witch hunt. His attorney, Alina Habba, doubled down on that rhetoric in a statement Wednesday.
“Today’s filing is neither focused on the facts nor the law – rather, it is solely focused on advancing the Attorney General’s political agenda,” Habba said. “We are confident that our judicial system will not stand for this unchecked abuse of authority, and we look forward to defending our client against each and every one of the Attorney General’s meritless claims.”
For his part, Trump has blasted the lawsuit on Truth Social, calling James a “fraud” and a “crime-fighting disaster.”
Trump previously tried to impede the probe but was ultimately ordered by a judge to sit for a deposition and turn over subpoenaed documents. Reports say he pled the fifth hundreds of times during his deposition.
See what others are saying: (Bloomberg) (The Washington Post) (Reuters)
Hurricane Fiona Causes “Catastrophic” Damage in Puerto Rico, Leaving Many Without Power
While power has been restored to some, more than a million remain without it as continued rainfall, flooding, and landslides are expected to cause further damage across the island.
Hurricane Fiona Wreaks Havoc
Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico Sunday, bringing heavy rains, flooding, and landslides, while also knocking out power for the entire island and killing at least one person.
Photos and videos posted on social media show floodwaters consuming major streets and engulfing cars. Some pictures show an entire bridge flooded, making it impassible. Other footage shows a different bridge entirely uprooted and a metal barrier ripped away from the road and floating down a river of floodwater.
Officials have said conditions are still too dangerous to fully evaluate the extent of the crisis. In remarks to the public, Puerto Rico’s governor, Pedro Pierluisi, described the damage as “catastrophic.”
He asserted that the storm has been one of the most significant since Hurricane Maria — which hit the island almost exactly 5 years ago to the day — killing more than 3,000 people, leaving many without power for months, and causing destruction that the island is still recovering from.
Pierluisi noted that Puerto Rico has received over 30 inches of rain and that some areas have even gotten more rain than during Hurricane Maria. As of Monday afternoon, the National Gaurd has led 30 rescue operations so far, saving more than 1,000 stranded residents in 25 municipalities, according to the governor.
Pierluisi also added that more than 2,000 people were in the island’s 128 shelters, with officials further saying there is plenty of shelter space for those who need it. On Sunday, President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico, which will allow federal agencies to coordinate disaster relief.
Continued Issues As Storm Rages On
Meanwhile, Puerto Rico’s water authority has confirmed that just over 70% of the island is still without water. According to poweroutage.us, more than 1.3 million customers were still without power as of Monday morning.
The power company LUMA also stated that electricity had been restored to around 100,000 customers over the course of Sunday night, though it previously warned that the full restoration of power could take several days as the storm has created “incredibly challenging” conditions.
While Hurricane Fiona has passed through Puerto Rico, having now made landfall in the Dominican Republic, officials and experts say that heavy rains and further flooding are still to be expected for the next few days.
The National Weather Service has warned that “life-threatening and catastrophic flooding” as well as mudslides and landslides are expected to continue across the island. As a result, Pierluisi has urged Puerto Ricans Monday to remain home and in shelters so that officials can continue to respond to others in need.
He also noted that the areas most impacted by the hurricane include the southern part of the island, the southwest, and the mountains.
After moving through the Dominican Republic, Hurricane Fiona is expected to head towards Turks and Caicos Tuesday. The National Hurricane Center has said that the storm will continue to grow and by Wednesday, it is set to become a major hurricane — which means a Category 3 or higher.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Washington Post) (CNN)
Government Aid Cut Child Poverty in Half During Pandemic, Data Shows
The reduction occurred similarly across geography, race, family type, and citizenship status.
Largest Drop in Half a Century
The United States’s child poverty rate sank to the lowest level on record last year, primarily thanks to pandemic relief measures and other government programs, according to an analysis of census data released Tuesday.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analyzed data from the Census Bureau’s supplementary poverty measure, which accounts for safety net programs and tax credits as well as regional differences in the cost of living.
From around 11% in 2019, the percentage of kids living below the poverty line fell to 9.7% in 2020 and 5.2% the year after that.
In just two years, nearly 5.5 million kids were lifted from poverty, marking an almost 60% drop in the child poverty rate.
The Center’s researchers gave most credit to the federal government’s numerous interventions in the economy, from stimulus payments and the expanded child tax credit to eviction moratoriums and expanded unemployment insurance.
Without government intervention, poverty in 2020 would have experienced its second-largest recorded increase, the Center claimed, but instead, it underwent the largest single-year decline in over half a century.
Especially impactful was the expanded child tax credit, which sent up to $300 per child to households with children every month between July and December 2021.
According to the analysis, this policy alone pulled nearly three million kids out of poverty.
But the tax credit’s expansion expired at the end of the year despite Democrats’ efforts to prolong it with Biden’s signature Build Back Better bill, which was blocked by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who reportedly told colleagues he was concerned that families might use the payments to buy drugs.
Poverty Before COVID
Child poverty has fallen by 59% since 1993, when it sat at around 28%, according to another analysis published Sunday by The New York Times and the nonpartisan group Child Trends.
They found that the decline occurred across all 50 states and D.C., as well as in different levels of poverty.
It similarly affected nearly all subgroups of children, — white, Black, Asian and Hispanic, single-parent and two-parent, immigrant and non-immigrant.
The causes driving the pre-pandemic decline included general economic improvement — low unemployment, a higher labor force participation rate among single mothers, and growing state minimum wages — but the researchers pinned government welfare programs as the dominant factor.
They specifically mentioned the earned income tax credit, social security, unemployment insurance, and nutrition and housing assistance.
Despite the positive trend, more than eight million children still live below the poverty line, and that number excludes those who live just above it but still struggle to meet basic needs.
The current poverty line sits around $29,000 for a family of four in a location with typical living costs.
Moreover, disparities still persist, with Black and Latino children about three times as likely as their white peers to be poor.