The Indicator from Planet Money - The Looming Eviction Crisis

Millions of renters in the US are facing the prospect of eviction from their homes.

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Content Keywords: Kathy person NPR Cappy Prince
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Cappy's sea creature is 55 she lives in an apartment that she rents in Camden South Carolina with her husband before the coronavirus pandemic. Kathy was working multiple jobs. She ran the cafe at a bookstore and she also worked as a server at a restaurant for the pandemic would shut down both of those workplaces and in March Kathy started a new job at an assisted living facility working with dementia patients. She likes to work but it only pays $12 an hour in overtime pay is not available to her. So when I took the new job for my career it then sent our rent back month this month. I don't make enough money to support myself. My husband had a stroke at 44 4 years ago. So he's not able to work by August Kathy had fallen thousands of dollars behind on her rent and a $12 an hour. She just was not making enough money to both pay her full rent and cover her other bills, like electricity and Karan.

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Prince and her husband's medications and my landlord was wonderful to be so patient with us really was wonderful, but he has to make money, you know, and I had reconciled in my head like how he's going to get rid of our stuff how we're going to live in the car. And that was just going to be okay from the possibility of being evicted was just overwhelming to be in that desperate situation to be in that desperate situation and really feel like you've done everything you possibly can. You know, I'm a Frugal person. I homeschool my children for years. I know how to pinch a good penny but I there was no punch.

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Is the indicator from Planet Money, I'm Cardiff Garcia and I'm Stacey Vanek Smith today in the show evictions millions and possibly tens of millions of renter's throughout the us could soon face a similar situation. The one that Kathy was facing the loss of jobs and income for so many of these renters has left the country with a possible eviction crisis and that crisis could have catastrophic consequences for the renters themselves and also for the whole economy.

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The rent the apartment the Kathy secret or shares with her husband in Camden, South Carolina is $695 a month. She cannot afford that on her wages from the assisted living facility where she now works. It's really difficult my paycheck that I was $595 and they are we and that's for 2 weeks even before at The Cove at pandemic roughly one out of every for renting household in the US was already paying more than half of their monthly income in rent. So a lot of renters were already paying their rent paycheck-to-paycheck appendix started the federal government along which state and local governments did respond. They responded with policies to help avoid an immediate surgeon evictions for a lot of these renters Congress and the president expanded unemployment benefits in the cares Act passed in late March, which help people who lost their jobs keep paying their bills things like rent plus a lot of state and local governments put these moratoriums in place that would stop landlord from evicting tenants the federal government added.

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On moratorium on evictions for a lot of housing complexes that it subsidizes the expanded unemployment benefits expired at the end of July in the moratoriums on evictions in at least 24 of the states had them had also expired by the end of July including the moratorium in Cathy's own state of South Carolina. The federal moratorium has also expired and all these reasons are why so many housing experts are now warning that an eviction prices could start soon in the people who are most vulnerable to an eviction crisis are low-income renters, according to the urban Institute low-income renters are more likely to have held jobs that have been lost in the covid-19 it especially jobs in food services and the retail sector before the pandemic in a restaurant in a bookstore where in those two very sectors the new job that she took at the assisted living facility did not pay her nearly enough to offset the income she lost but the economy is still in rough shape.

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Finding the kind of work. She used to do is just still really hard. It's hard when you're willing to work for you for jobs. Like I'm not afraid to work but you can't find work. A lot of Americans can't find work right now and many are struggling to pay their rent according to the Census Bureau roughly one out of five renters could not pay their rent on time in July and August could be worse nearly one out of three renter said that you had no confidence or only slight confidence that they could pay their August rent 4 months. Kathy says that she herself could only pay partial rent for landlord kept the growing tab for her running into the thousands of dollars and I would ask him every couple months to show us. What where we were cuz I was trying to make payments I would I would keep making payments but it would be like $300 for the month. Well that's less than half of what I you know what I owe him, even though I have a job that's a good tea no decent job, but it was a it was a challenge, you know, it's very stressful to live under that environment East in evictions. Crisis. Does BK

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Are reality communities of color would also be disproportionately hurt partly because a much higher share of black and Latino households are renters instead of homeowners. They're about twice as likely as white households to rent and even before the pandemic they were already much more likely to face eviction than white households. If there is any good news here. It's just at the evictions crisis is not actually started yet. The warning signs are flashing red. But so far addictions are actually quite low in a lot of major cities that of course does not mean it that everything is fine. Remember that the expanded unemployment benefits and the state moratorium on evictions only just expired a few weeks ago and it could take a bit of time before the struggles. The people are having and paying their rent translate into actual evictions and also means of course that there is still time for federal and state and local policymakers to act again and possibly avert a crisis. Meanwhile in at least some parts of the country hundreds of rental assistance programs have been directing their money to help from

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Evictions and a lot of them have received money from the federal government for this very purpose and one of those organizations ended up helping Kathy. In fact, it was actually her landlord put her in touch with the local program from the United Way that helps fight homelessness this program called New Day Kathy applied and got a grant from new day. She was approved to receive about $4,000 and that money cleared all the back rent that Kathy owed her landlord. I felt like I finally had a chance to get my head slightly above water so that I can breathe and it would give me that time that I needed to get my life together again and by the 1st of September will be able to put the rest of my rent down. Like I'll be able to breathe before a new start does not mean everything will continue to be fine in the future Kathy is hopeful that as the economy recovers she'll be able to find other jobs to supplement her income but that partly also depends on whether it becomes safe to work those jobs while there is still a pandemic there is no certainty about this or about whether the economy will keep recovering.

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Turn the meantime Kathy has a message for policymakers anything can turn on a dime and there are people who are really hard working who really don't want to take charity, but don't have a choice and if it is something that can help people even.

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Anybody I would absolutely beg them to consider to continue these programs. We need them. We have people that want to make their rent. They want to pay their bills. They don't want to take a shower today and they're working as hard as they can.

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You know and then when you add in the stress of covid-19.

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This episode of the indicator was produced by James Sneed. In fact check by Brittany Cronin. The indicator is edited by Patty Hirsch and it is a production of NPR.

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Here at life cat we know that getting your financial house in order can feel painful. Now. There's a sold coronavirus pandemic the dof are at personal finance tune-up series will help you feel more confident and get you on the right track. Listen And subscribe to NPR's life.
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