The eviction moratorium that was put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic is scheduled to end on Saturday. On one hand, landlords across the country are “owed tends of billions of dollars” in back-rent, according to the New York Times (NYT). On the other hand, millions of Americans are facing being kicked out of their homes when the moratorium comes to an end. Could the U.S. see a surge in homelessness?
The NYT also noted earlier this week that “Congress had appropriated tens of billions of dollars to pay for rent arrears.” But, should people who neglected to pay their rent be bailed out by taxpayers who held up their end of the “bargain?”
Did the government cause the problem by becoming involved in the moratorium in the first place?
Reason noted the following concerning the consequences of the government taking such a hard stance on being a part of this, while also enabling abuse of the system:
One problem with the eviction moratorium is that, in practice, it doesn't only impact those in need. It is making widespread abuse possible, in which tenants with the means to pay their rent are taking advantage of the situation to live in their apartments at no cost.
Sure, many people lost their jobs during the pandemic. While the exact number of people who lost their jobs varies depending on the source you look at, Pew Charitable Trusts reported that — according to PolicyLink estimates — “the nationwide total rent debt is upward of $20 billion, with more than 5.8 million renters, or 14 percent, in arrears.”
It’s understandable that people who became jobless during the pandemic would have a tough time paying their bills. But, the enhanced unemployment benefits that were provided to the unemployed have deterred some from reentering the workforce.
Breitbart reported July 15 on a Morning Consult poll that “generous unemployment insurance benefits from the government have greatly reduced the number of job offers accepted by the unemployed throughout the course of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.”
Fifty percent have said they turned down a job because of the need to take care of children, family members, coronavirus, or health reasons.
The other 50 percent said they turned down a job because the offer was unattractive to them economically, provided too few or too many hours of work, did not allow remote work, or was not in the “desired” industry.
On Friday, Reuters reported that the U.S. House of Representatives will be looking into trying to extend the moratorium through the end of the calendar year after President Joe Biden asked Congress to do so.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the measure “a moral imperative.”
This debate could be looked at in more than one way.
Landlords have the responsibility to keep up the maintenance of their properties and pay the local property fees, which can be a difficult task to accomplish when some of those properties might have tenants who haven’t been paying rent.
Looking at the other side of things, some Americans have been put between a rock and a hard place by losing their jobs because of lockdowns that haven’t seemed to pan out that well in the grand scheme of things. It also doesn’t help that the government has been enabling people to be delinquent on payments in the form of increased unemployment and assistance benefits.