UPDATED 12:30 PM PT – Thursday, December 31, 2020
Renters in America are bracing to head to housing court due to rampant job loss amid the pandemic combined with the expiration of a nationwide eviction moratorium.
According to a report from the ‘National Council of State Housing Agencies‘ released earlier this year, an estimated 20.1 million U.S. renters are at risk of being ousted from their homes when the CDC’s eviction moratorium expires in January 2021.
Without proper counsel, some legal analysts worry renters may not know their rights or could lose their housing without due cause.
The CDC’s eviction moratorium was supposed to expire at the end of December, but when President Trump signed the COVID relief bill last week, the moratorium was extended to the end of January. Despite temporary relief from the extension, tenants said they are still on the hook for everything and some are even months late on paying their rent.
“I sold everything I could think of from clothing to furniture to records, to you name it,” unemployed renter Mike Grisby-Lane said. “I used savings, I used all my retirement, I cut back on absolutely everything, medicine, food. I’m now a couple months behind and I’m not sure what I’m going to do here.”
According to the Associated Press, fewer than 10 cities and counties in the U.S. guarantee tenants the right to a lawyer in housing-related disputes, which prompts concern the already-struggling renters won’t be able to afford the legal help they need and could be at a disadvantage in court.
While the federal coronavirus relief package provides $25 billion for rental assistance, some housing advocates say it isn’t enough.
Experts predict more cities across the country will push “to give tenants the right to an attorney,” as the looming eviction crisis represents a significant threat to dismantling the housing industry as a whole.
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