Nearly 2 Million US Households Owe $15 Billion in Back Rent: Report
Nearly 2 Million US Households Owe $15 Billion in Back Rent: Report

By GQ Pan

An estimated 1.95 million U.S. renter households owed more than $15.3 billion in back rent when the federal eviction moratorium expired on July 31, according to a new report.

The number of renter households in debt is expected to reach 2 million by December, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said in the July 30 report (pdf). Those households are expected to collectively owe $18.6 billion by that point, with an average debt of $9,300.

The state with the largest estimated number of households in arrears on rent in August is California (313,300), followed by Texas (174,900), Florida (171,900), and New York (155,600). California is also estimated to owe the largest amount of rent debt ($3.54 billion), which is greater than the combined rent debt of the next two states, Florida ($1.53 billion) and New York ($1.43 billion).

The report came as the nationwide eviction ban, which was first enacted in September 2020 as part of the federal government’s effort to prevent the further spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, came to an end on July 31. The idea was that evicted individuals often share living spaces with relatives or friends or move into crowded homeless shelters, undermining social distancing restrictions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which extended the moratorium several times, was ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court to leave the policy in place until the end of July. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was the deciding justice in the 5-4 ruling, pointed out that the CDC lacked authority to extend the eviction ban again, unless it did so by an act of Congress.

“In my view, clear and specific congressional authorization (via new legislation) would be necessary for the CDC to extend the moratorium past July 31,” Kavanaugh’s concurring opinion read.

In a July 29 statement, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden would have supported the CDC extending the eviction ban, but “the Supreme Court has made clear that this option is no longer available,” and called on Congress to pass legislation to keep the ban in place.

Despite the president’s call to action, Congress didn’t address the issue before going on recess. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) introduced H.R. 4791 on July 30 to extend the moratorium through Dec. 31. The proposal failed to get sufficient support for a formal vote, and the House has now entered a six-week recess.

With the federal eviction moratorium has ended, some state and local governments still have their own temporary eviction moratoria in place. California’s Los Angeles County, for example, has banned evictions through the end of September.

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