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On Wednesday, NPR published a bleak article titled "Eviction filings are up sharply as pandemic rental aid starts to run out." As the headline suggests, we are now witnessing a rapid uptick in eviction rates around the country, as more and more people are unable to access emergency rental assistance that had previously kept millions in their home.
The lessons from the piece cannot be more clear. Despite the large-scale instability and unemployment unleashed by the pandemic, millions of people were kept from losing their housing at the height of the pandemic through a mixture of eviction moratoria, rental assistance, and an increase in spending in legal protections in eviction court. Previously, the federal government had allocated $46 billion in aid to support tenants seeking emergency support; now that those funds are tapped out and not being renewed, we're seeing evictions jump in countless cities around the country, in some cases at rates higher than before the pandemic. In an analysis based on data from six states and 31 cities with data, the Eviction Lab found that eviction rates in March were at 97 percent of their historic average, compared to just 46 percent last August, when the CDC's eviction moratorium expired. Again, the data could not be more clear: we had a robust (at least by US standards) stance against letting people get evicted, until we gave up and left people to fend for themselves once more.
Now, advocates are worrying not simply that evictions are going to reach their pre-pandemic levels, but in many cases climb even higher. With rent rates continuing to spike around the country, we know that people are even more stretched to pay for housing, on top of all the other expenses that have climbed in the last two years. As a housing organizer, it's enough to send chills through your spine, knowing the incredible human toll that our broken approach will take on millions of Americans. In Chicago, we know that these figures are exacerbated by the lack of Just Cause for Eviction, which would prevent landlords from evicting tenants for no reason. These compounding crises are a ticking time bomb, and we cannot pretend them away.
If you're concerned about these issues and want to learn more about how you can have an impact in Chicago, consider learning more about Just Cause for Eviction from our website here. Now more than ever, we need everyday people to stand up to these issues and fight for a world in which housing is honored as a human right. Thank you for your support!