“I have $ 4 in my name. A prolonged eviction ban is not enough for some tenants in difficulty

Jordan Mills and her husband Jonathan Russell with their daughter Valkyrie. The family were evicted from their home in San Antonio, despite providing a CDC statement to their owner. | Courtesy of CNN

(CNN) – Millions of troubled tenants will likely be protected against expulsion – at least for another month.

the stimulus bill it was promulgated by President Trump late Sunday evening extends a national ban on evictions until January 31. The moratorium, which was put in place by the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention in September to stop the spread of the coronavirus, was originally scheduled to expire at the end of that month.

The package also provides $ 25 billion in emergency rental assistance.

If the package passes, none of the measures will likely be enough to keep the most-at-risk tenants in their homes after January.

“While extending the CDC’s moratorium on evictions for just one month is insufficient to keep people housed for the duration of the pandemic, the extension provides essential and immediate protection for millions of tenants on the verge of losing their homes in January, ”said Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

An estimated 9.2 million tenants who lost income during the pandemic are behind on rent, according to a analysis census data by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

After the moratoriums are lifted, many of these tenants will have to pay their full retroactive rent or come up with some sort of payment plan with their landlord – or they could risk losing their home.

CNN Business spoke to several tenants who are struggling to pay their monthly payments due to the pandemic.

Kelly Green said she had a roof over her head only because of the CDC’s moratorium on evictions. | Courtesy of CNN

“Money is piling up against me”

Kelly Green, who lives in a $ 1,429-a-month apartment in Daytona Beach, Florida, hasn’t been able to pay rent since September.

“The only reason I have a roof over my head is the moratorium on evictions,” Green said.

Green makes a living selling rhinestone and sequin biker clothing at motorcycle rallies and other festivals.

After the closure in March, there were no festivals, no events, and she had no income. Still, she concocted her savings, stimulus payments, rent relief and UI payments and managed to update her rent until July. But she wasn’t sure how she would end up making ends meet after the $ 600 a week extra unemployment assistance ended.

Green has heard of a coronavirus-related rent assistance fund offered by Volusia County, where she lives. She asked for help and got $ 4,500 for three months’ rent.

“I thought, ‘Great! “This will pay me a few months of rent, and I can move in November at the end of my current lease and I will still have a good credit rating that will allow me to rent another apartment,” she said.

But there was a catch: Volusia County rental assistance program requires tenants to pay their rent by March 13, 2020. Green was behind on his rent in February and therefore his apartment complex would not accept assistance.

Without this money, Green was not able to pay the full rent for October, November or December. And since she exceeded her lease in November, she now has a monthly lease that costs an additional $ 500 per month.

“Even if the moratorium is extended, the money is piling up against me,” she said. “What would help me the most is if I get a rent assistance check for three months, they take it.”

She knows it doesn’t make sense to stay and watch how much she needs to increase, but she said she didn’t know where she would go without putting her friends and family at risk of exposure to the coronavirus. .

“It totally depresses you,” she said. “You want to give up. Where will I go when the CDC order expires and I have this eviction on my record? “

I must be out before Christmas

Mercedes Darby lives in a three-bedroom apartment in Nashville with her three school-aged children and daughter, Princess Thomas, who is in college. The two generally share the rent. But since the two were made redundant in March, they have not been able to pay rent of $ 1,250 per month since April and currently owe $ 9,000 in rent and return costs.

Even though Darby provided his landlord with a statement from the CDC, which protects the family from eviction for non-payment, they are now being evicted for a separate lease violation – Darby’s name is not on the lease.

Darby says the lease is in Thomas’ name, but she’s been living there since they put the apartment together a year and a half ago and she’s still making payments.

After missing a deportation date on December 15, a default judgment gave the family 10 days to leave. So Darby packs everything she has for storage.

“We have to be out on Christmas Day or they’ll have the sheriffs here,” Darby said after the ruling. “Without money, I have to find temporary accommodation. “

Darby was fired from her membership services at a major insurance company in March. She had been looking for a new apartment since July. But even after paying the application fee, she was repeatedly turned down due to her credit history and previous bankruptcy. Now her daughter is also at risk of having problems because of this expulsion.

In November Darby was rehired for a similar position and money returned again. But now she has to pay a lot more fees and deposit money for an apartment because of her story.

“I have a well-paying job,” she says. “I earn enough, if you don’t want to triple the amount up front.”

For now, she searches for a place for her family over the holidays while she finds more permanent accommodation and prepares for her February hearing date on the rent she owes.

“We have nowhere to go,” she said. “We don’t have any family here and our friends can’t all take us. I’ll try to find a hotel. But it will take all the money I have to put in another apartment.

Bryan Clift with his daughter Iyla. Clift has been out of work since March and is behind on rent for his apartment in suburban Minneapolis. | Courtesy of CNN

Awaiting rent relief

Bryan Clift’s job as a waiter in suburban Minneapolis ended last March, just as his 10-year-old daughter, Iyla’s school moved online. Iyla’s mother, whom she did not see regularly, passed away a few weeks ago. Now Clift is about $ 2,000 in arrears on rent and they face eviction.

“My daughter is all I have,” he said. “I put it first. Making sure she has a roof over her head and food on the table is the most important thing.

They have behaved well all summer, with the UI benefits he received. But when the $ 600 in weekly extra payments expired, he feared he would fall behind on his $ 1,500 per month rent for the two-bedroom apartment.

“When I saw my savings go down, I went to talk to the leasing people, with whom I have always had a good relationship,” he said. “I said I was going to try to do my best. They suggested that I ask for rent relief.

He has requested and expects to receive relief money from Prism, a local non-profit social service organization. But it is not yet in hand.

“It’s a waiting game,” he said. “If you ask for help now, it will take a while. “

With this early support, he hopes to close the income gap until he can work again.

“I could go look for a job now,” he said. “I want to. I don’t like to sit still. But without the schools open, I can’t go to work. If something doesn’t change for me in the next few months, what am I going to do? bills I could And this rent relief will help, but for how long?

Any further help from the government is welcome, he said, but “I could do without the stimulus check if I had better unemployment because you can stretch that out longer.”

Expelled despite CDC protections

The worst has already happened to Jordan Mills and Jonathan Russell and their two-year-old daughter Valkyrie.

Even though they were protected by the moratorium on evictions, a court still granted an eviction.

Mills thought she had done everything right. She provided the CDC statement form protecting it from eviction to its owner. She applied for and received rent assistance from the city of San Antonio. She even made a payment plan.

“People like me are always kicked out for non-payment,” she said.

She made a payment agreement with her landlord, but was about $ 450 late. The owners have filed for eviction citing a violation of part of the CDC’s statement in which Mills agreed to do “her best to make timely partial payments that are as close to full payment as the owners. circumstances of the individual may permit it “.

Mills went to the courthouse to appear at her eviction hearing, but said she was unable to attend because she did not have the money to pay for parking.

“I couldn’t afford to park, it all costs $ 20,” she said. “I literally live day to day. I got paid yesterday. I have $ 4 in my name.

In May, Mills, who is an assistant manager at a payday loan company, saw her hours cut. She realized that her family was not going to be able to pay their rent with their high utility bills during the summer in Texas.

She applied for and received rent assistance, a lump sum of $ 3,500 for three months’ rent.

When Mills contracted coronavirus, she said, their childcare provider abandoned them as a precaution and her husband quit his job as a security guard to care for Valkyrie full-time, reducing still their income.

After the court ordered their deportation in November, they did not wait for the sheriff to arrive. Mills borrowed $ 1,400 from his mother and moved his family out of the three-bedroom mobile home they rented for $ 1,175 a month and into a 470-square-foot one-bedroom apartment in San Antonio.

The family’s new apartment is located in a so-called “second chance” rental building, for people with foreclosure or bad credit.

Mills paid dearly for this second chance. In addition to the rent of $ 750 per month, a deposit of $ 299 and a deposit of $ 300 for pets, she also had to pay a risk fee of $ 650 due to her background.

“The worst has happened,” she says. “But I’m still afraid of the impact it will have on me when I rent a bigger place, a safer place. We have cockroaches. I don’t want to stay here.

While she appreciates the rent relief they received, she said more rent assistance should go directly to owners.

“If there was something for them, they wouldn’t be so quick to turn on tenants. “

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