BIPOC Renters Disproportionately at Risk as Federal Eviction Protections End

By Shani Saxon Aug 02, 2021

Evictions are expected to rise dramatically over the next few months because a federal moratorium preventing landlords from evicting financially challenged tenants expired on Sunday (August 1). 

Congress failed to pass new legislation that would extend protections, resulting in millions of people facing a potential housing crisis. People of color in particular are disproportionately at risk of evictions, partly because they are twice as likely to be renters, Vox reports. 

The Biden administration on Thursday (July 29) announced that it would be forced to allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moratorium to expire in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision stating protections couldn’t continue beyond July 31 without congressional authorization. 

“Struggling renters are now facing a health crisis and an eviction crisis,” Alicia Mazzara, senior research analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told The Associated Press. “Without the CDC’s moratorium, millions of people are at risk of being evicted or becoming homeless, increasing their exposure to COVID just as cases are rising across the country. The effects will fall heavily on people of color, particularly Black and Latino communities, who face greater risk of eviction and more barriers to vaccination.”

According to a report  released by the Aspen Institute in July:

More than 15 million people live in households that are currently behind on their rental payments (7.4 million adults, 6.5 million households), which places them at legal risk of eviction. According to one estimate, these households collectively owe more than $20 billion to their landlords.

…these renters may face eviction, civil lawsuits for unpaid rent, and aggressive debt collection—crises that will continue to cause harm years into the future. Nearly 50% of those who are behind on rent anticipate that they will be evicted in the next two months. The threat of eviction is particularly acute for renters of color. Currently, 22% of Black renters and 17% of Latinx renters are in debt to their landlords, compared to 15% overall and 11% of White renters. 

Additionally, as Vox reports, low-income families are “less likely to have savings to pay rent and more likely to have been employed in Covid-affected industries.” The news outlet also points to a June report by City Life/Vida Urbana and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that “78 percent of eviction filings in Boston” during the early days of the pandemic were in communities of color. 

Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO), who has discussed her past experience with homelessness, slept on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Friday (July 30) in protest of the end of eviction protections. “I am dirty, sticky, sweaty. I still have on what I had on last night. This is how people will have to live if we don’t do something … they deserve human dignity and deserve for people that represent them to show up, do the work, to make sure basic needs are met today,” she told CNN
rnEmily Benfer, a visiting law professor at Wake Forest University and chair of the American Bar Association’s COVID-19 Task Force Committee on Eviction, told Pew that the end of eviction protections will ultimately have a devastating impact on families who are already struggling. “Without the moratorium in place,” she said, “this creates a catastrophic situation that guarantees displacement, fear, harm for tenants and an inability for landlords to recoup the rental debt.”