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Millions of Americans could face eviction in July—and it could 'destabilize communities for years to come'

A demonstrator at a June 30 Cancel Rent and Mortgages rally in Minneapolis.
Brandon Bell

As many as 6.7 million rent-burdened households could face eviction once enhanced federal unemployment insurance expires at the end of July and eviction bans across the country lift, according to a new analysis from UrbanFootprint, a tech company that makes urban planning software.

"This level of displacement would be unparalleled in U.S. history and carries the potential to destabilize communities for years to come," UrbanFootprint's report reads.

The analysis used unemployment claims and the cost of housing, among other factors, to map out which states are most at risk of an eviction crisis. California, New York, Florida, Georgia and Texas top the list. 

Without a swift recovery of the U.S. economy, additional federal aid is required to keep people at risk of eviction, who are disproportionately women and people of color, in their homes, according to the authors of the report and many other housing experts

"The path back to pre-Covid economic activity and employment levels is unpredictable at best," reads the report. "This leaves the fate of many renters and communities in the balance."

That said, the number of evictions stemming from coronavirus could be higher or lower. A number of other factors, including savings and governmental aid, can also affect a renter's likelihood of being evicted.

The coming eviction crisis

Even before the coronavirus pandemic resulted in more than 40 million people losing their jobs, the U.S. had a housing affordability crisis. Almost half of renter households were rent-burdened pre-Covid, according to UrbanFootprint. A quarter were severely burdened, meaning they spent 50% or more of their monthly income on rent.

The coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated that problem. Tenants are more likely than homeowners to work in the service and hospitality industries, which were decimated when states shut down large parts of their economies to stop the spread of the disease. Rent-burdened workers were more than twice as likely to lose their jobs than other renters, according to the Urban Institute.

About 30.5 million people filed for jobless benefits last week, and economists worry that even more people will become unemployed as states experience setbacks reopening their economies.

More federal aid could be on the way

To prevent a flood of evictions, housing policy experts, including at the National Low Income Housing Coalition, have called for $100 billion in emergency rental assistance for both tenants and landlords. 

The House of Representatives on Monday passed a bill that would allocate $100 billion to rental assistance programs and $75 billion for mortgage relief. It also extends the federal eviction moratorium put in place by the CARES Act through March 2021. It is now with the Senate, where it is not expected to pass. 

Also on Monday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced a bill that would halt all evictions nationwide through March 2021 and require landlords to give tenants 30 days notice for all evictions after the ban lifts.

Editor's note: This story and headline have been updated to include additional context.

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