The Impact of Eviction and Societal Responsibility

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The three-month Federal Cares Act moratorium will end on July 25. An estimated 28 million households facing eviction from non-federally subsidized housing or housing their landlords do not pay with Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae mortgage loans will be on the streets after a 30-day eviction notice from the Cares Act moratorium expiration date.

Of course, it was never really up to the federal government to do anything about this in the first place. The Cares Act initiative concerning eviction was only implemented because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not normally under the jurisdiction of the federal government to enforce any aspects of landlord/tenant agreements. There are state and citywide ordinances that oversee these relations, and these are the ones that will pick up the slack once the federal moratorium ends. Depending on where in the country renters facing eviction live will determine some of the short-term personal impact. For instance, in San Francisco, with one of the highest numbers of homeless in the country, the moratorium is extended to September 30. Some states, like Connecticut, forbid evictions during the entire course of the pandemic.

However, even extensions to the moratorium will not ultimately reduce the impact of the impending doom and may even exacerbate its long-term deleterious effects. In the first place, the moratoriums cannot last forever. In the second place, the moratoriums do not relieve the renters of their overdue rent. The longer they go without paying, the higher their unpaid rental debt, in some cases with additional late fees accruing that are not currently imposed under the Cares Act. The particulars of the rules such as grace periods to repay and whether there are any are different throughout the country. One of the long-term impacts is whether the evictions are sealed records or not. If landlords can find out that a person was evicted, it may mean shelter will be as difficult to secure in the future even if someone has miraculously managed to pay off the past debt.

The impact of eviction or an impending one implies an ominous period for anyone, shelter being a basic need for life sustenance. Emotional instability is perhaps the most devastating consequence. Emotional stress to such an extent inhibits the mind from working out the simplest problems, let alone ones of such magnitude. When people have extended family and close friends, it can mean the difference between hope for the future and utter despair. Too many don’t have these trusted networks, though. More than eviction moratoriums, it is essential that state and local governments provide that missing and vital support through free, aggressive mental health and social programs designed specifically for those displaced, including practical, financial and job counseling with detailed and doable plans they may follow for successful recoveries. It is equally incumbent on local religious institutions to provide the same kind of guidance and support. Grassroots charity and concern for one’s fellow man cannot be dismissed as having a major, positive impact on those affected by eviction, especially during this trying time.

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