If the package passes, none of the measures will likely be enough to keep the most-at-risk tenants in their homes after January.
“While extending the moratorium on CDC evictions by one month is not enough to keep people housed for the duration of the pandemic, the extension provides essential and immediate protection for millions of tenants on the verge of losing their housing in January, ”said Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
After the moratoriums are lifted, many of these tenants will have to pay their rent in full or come up with some sort of payment plan with their landlord – or they risk losing their homes.
CNN Business spoke to several tenants who have struggled to pay their monthly payments due to the pandemic.
‘The money is piling up against me’
Kelly Green, who lives in a $ 1,429 a month apartment in Daytona Beach, Florida, has not been able to pay rent since September.
“The only reason I have a roof over my head is the moratorium on evictions,” Green said.
Green makes a living selling rhinestone and sequin biker clothing at motorcycle rallies and other festivals.
After the shutdown in March, there were no festivals, no events and she had no income. Still, she gathered her savings, stimulus payments, rent relief and UI payments and managed to discount her rent until July. But she wasn’t sure how she would manage to make ends meet after the $ 600-a-week extra unemployment assistance ended.
Green has heard of a coronavirus-related rent relief fund offered by Volusia County, where she lives. She asked for help and received $ 4,500 for three months’ rent.
“I thought, ‘Great! “that will pay a few months of rent, and I can move in November when my current lease is up and I will still have a good credit rating that will allow me to rent another apartment,” she says.
Without this money, Green was not able to pay the full rent for October, November or December. And because she passed her lease term in November, she now has a monthly lease that costs an additional $ 500 per month.
“Even though the moratorium is extended, the money is piling up against me,” she said. “What would help me the most is if I get a rental assistance check for three months, they take it.”
She knows it doesn’t make sense to stay and watch how much she needs to increase, but she said she wasn’t sure where she would go without exposing her friends and family to the coronavirus.
“It totally depresses you,” she said. “You feel like giving up. Where will I go when the CDC order expires, and I have this eviction on my record?”
I must be at Christmas
Mercedes Darby lives in a three-bedroom apartment in Nashville with her three school-aged children and daughter, Princess Thomas, who is in college. The two generally share the rent. But since they were both laid off in March, they have not been able to pay the $ 1,250 per month rent since April and currently owe $ 9,000 in rent and fees arrears.
Even though Darby provided his landlord with a statement from the CDC, which protects the family from eviction for non-payment, they are now being evicted for a separate lease violation – Darby’s name is not on the lease.
Darby says the lease is in Thomas’ name, but she’s been living there since they got the apartment a year and a half ago together and she’s been making payments from the start.
After missing the expulsion court date on December 15, a default judgment gave the family 10 days off. Darby therefore packs everything she has to put it away.
“We have to be out on Christmas Day or they’ll have the sheriffs here,” she said. “Without money, I have to find temporary accommodation.”
Darby was fired from her membership services at a major insurance company in March. She had been looking for a new apartment since July. But even after paying the application fee, she was repeatedly turned down due to her credit history and previous bankruptcy. Now her daughter is also at risk of having problems due to this deportation.
In November Darby was rehired in a similar position and the money returned again. But now she has to pay a lot more in fees and deposit money for an apartment because of her history.
“I have a well-paying job,” she says. “I’m doing enough, if you don’t want to triple the original amount.”
For now, she is looking for a place for her family to stay during the holidays while she finds a more permanent home and prepares for her court date in February on the rent she owes.
“We have nowhere to go,” she said. “We don’t have any family here and our friends can’t take us all. I’ll try to find a hotel. But it will take all the money I have to put in another apartment.”
Awaiting rent relief
Bryan Clift’s job as a waiter in suburban Minneapolis ceased last March, just as his 10-year-old daughter, Iyla’s school moved online. Iyla’s mother, whom she did not see regularly, died a few weeks ago. Now Clift is about $ 2,000 behind on the rent and they are at risk of eviction.
“My daughter is all I have,” he says. “I put her first. Making sure she has a roof over her head and food on the table is the most important thing.”
They did well over the summer with the UI benefits he received. But when the $ 600 extra weekly payment expired, he feared he might fall behind on his $ 1,500 per month rent for the two-bedroom apartment.
“When I saw my savings dwindling, I went to talk to the rental companies, with whom I have always had a good relationship,” he said. “I said I’ll try to do my best. They suggested I ask for rent relief.”
He has applied for and hopes to receive financial assistance from Prism, a local social service non-profit organization. But it is not yet in progress.
“It’s a waiting game,” he said. “If you ask for help now, it will take time.
With this early support, he hopes to close the income gap until he can work again.
“I could go look for a job now,” he says. “I want to. I don’t like to sit still. But without the schools open, I can’t go to work. If something doesn’t change for me in the next few months, what am I going to do? I pushed my money back every bill I can. And this rent relief will help, but for how long? ”
Any further help from the government is welcome, he said, but “I could do without the stimulus check if I had better unemployment because you can extend that for longer.”
Expelled despite CDC protections
The worst has already happened to Jordan Mills and Jonathan Russell and their two-year-old daughter Valkyrie.
Even though they were protected by the moratorium on eviction, a court still granted an eviction.
“People like me are always kicked out for non-payment,” she said.
She made a payment agreement with her landlord, but was late by about $ 450. The owners have filed for eviction alleging a violation of part of the CDC statement in which Mills agreed to do “her best to make timely partial payments that are as close to full payment as the circumstances of the individual allow it ”.
Mills went to the courthouse to appear at her eviction hearing, but says she was unable to attend because she did not have the money to pay for parking.
“I can’t afford to park, that’s all $ 20,” she says. “I literally live in melee. I got paid yesterday. I have $ 4 in my name.”
In May, Mills, who is an assistant manager at a payday loan company, had her hours cut. She realized that her family was not going to be able to pay their rent as well as their high electricity bills during the summer in Texas.
She applied for and received rent assistance, a lump sum of $ 3,500 for three months’ rent.
When Mills contracted coronavirus, she said, their childcare provider abandoned them as a precaution and her husband quit his job as a security guard to care for Valkyrie full-time, further reducing their care. income.
After the court ordered their deportation in November, they did not wait for the sheriff to arrive. Mills borrowed $ 1,400 from his mother and moved his family out of the three-bedroom mobile home they were renting for $ 1,175 a month and into a 470-square-foot one-bedroom apartment in San Antonio.
The family’s new apartment is in a so-called “second chance” building, for people with eviction or credit.
Mills paid dearly for this second chance. In addition to the rent of $ 750 per month, a deposit of $ 299 and a deposit of $ 300 for pets, she also had to pay a risk fee of $ 650 due to her background.
“The worst has happened,” she says. “But I’m still afraid of how it will affect me when I go to rent somewhere bigger, safer. We have cockroaches. I don’t want to stay here.
“If there was something for them, they wouldn’t be so quick to turn on tenants.”