A federal moratorium on evictions runs out at the end of this month. After that, people who owe back rent could be forced out of their homes.
At the beginning of the year, an estimated 10 million renters were behind, owing a combined $57 billion in rent and utilities.
Allilsa Fernandez lives with a roommate in a second-story apartment within a house in Queens and describes life these days as hanging on by a thread. Fernandez owes almost $20,000 in rent.
Fernandez couldn’t take a job as a home health aide at the beginning of the pandemic because of asthma and other medical conditions. They currently work a part-time job from home, bringing in around $1,200 a month.
The roommate lost her job at the beginning of the pandemic, making their $1,800 monthly rent payments impossible.
As state and federal moratoriums are expected to expire in the next few months, an estimated 30 to 40 million Americans are at risk of being evicted. Black and Latino people make up approximately 80 % of those facing eviction.
But it’s not just renters: landlords say they’re feeling the pressure too. Liz Dunn owns six buildings in Seattle, made up of more than 20 small businesses and nearly 30 apartments.
“They’re all behind in one way or another,” Dunn said. “My entire goal is to try and keep every one of my tenants in their space until we are all the way through this.”
Dunn admits that’s difficult. She’s accepting less in rent from her tenants and has been directing them to grants and loans. For renters who don’t have a landlord like Dunn, there may be some relief coming soon.
The federal government’s emergency rental assistance program went into effect in January. $25 billion is being made available to states to help assist qualified households with rent and utilities. but experts say it may not be enough.