Finding and maintaining the fine line between a hand-up and a handout is an incredibly difficult thing for anyone. For the US as a nation, it can be near impossible. For people like President Biden, they fail to understand that $2,000 can get you a lot more in Lincoln, Nebraska than in Tampa, Florida. Even though everything is even, the result of that money is not.
Much the same, the American economy is “recovering” in many areas, but in the sectors that impact the poor that recovery hasn’t shown up yet. If anything, they are having an even harder time making their minimum staffing requirements. Even finding people who are qualified and want to work at these lower wages is getting increasingly more difficult.
During the earlier stages of the COVID pandemic, there was cash assistance being offered by many organizations to help get the American people through this tough time. Programs to help pay the rent, keep the utilities going, or fill the pantry were all over. Evictions had a moratorium on them, and people were about to stay where they were even if they couldn’t pay the rent in whole or part.
Now that is almost all gone. People are stuck trying to figure it out, and the eviction filings are starting to pile up once again. As the people are being booted out, they are finding themselves struggling to find an opportunity to get their lives back on track, and to get back into suitable housing.
For many, this means they are sleeping in their car or a shelter.
These shelters often don’t take men, have limited capacity, and don’t have the best track records for being able to get people off the streets and back inside permanently. While a solid alternative to the underpass for a bit, they lack a lot of services, but COVID funding helped them to provide those services to get people assistance returning to the good life.
With the moratorium on evictions ending, many landlords are trying to make up for not upping the rent during the pandemic. In turn, they are now evicting those who cannot pay the new higher rates.
Cities like Minneapolis-St. Paul saw 91% higher evictions in June when compared to a historic average. Subsequently, Las Vegas is up 56%, Hartford, Connecticut, jumped 32%, and Jacksonville, Florida, came up 17%.
These kinds of figures aren’t sustainable for anyone. Landlords cannot afford to keep turning over units. Each time it’s hundreds-thousands of dollars in remediation before someone new can move in. Then the time the unit is not being rented is lost income as well.
Much the same, once evicted people have a much more difficult time getting into a new place to live, as many are not willing to take a risk on someone who was previously evicted. This vicious cycle ensures they cannot find suitable housing to stay in, and only helps them find other places that won’t make it worth the cost to rent the place.
As it is, rents are up 15% across the board this year, and 25% higher since 2019.
Rental vacancies, on the other hand, are at a 35-year low at 5.8%. This low rate sounds fantastic to politicians, but it’s a symbol of something more troubling. As companies purchase houses all over the country, the American people cannot afford to buy a house, and many cannot afford the rent either.
This is a perfect storm of problems for housing as people are clamoring to find places to live, but nothing is available. Marie Claire Tran-Leung, the eviction initiative project director for the National Housing Law Project summed it up best. “Landlords are raising the rent and making it very unaffordable for tenants to stay…Housing is based on supply and demand. And when no one moves and you have no vacancies, you have a tight market and prices go up.”