KEY POINTS

  • Stout Risius Ross warned that almost 12 million renters could be evicted in the next four months
  • Aspen Institute said up to 23 million American renters may be at risk of eviction by the end of September
  • In New York some 1.5 million people are at risk of eviction

With enhanced unemployment benefits and eviction moratoriums set to expire at the end of July and in August, millions of jobless Americans living in apartments face the threat of eviction in the coming months.

Advisory firm Stout Risius Ross of Chicago warned that almost 12 million renters could be evicted in the next four months, with cities like New York and Houston expected to be particularly badly hit.

Researchers at the Aspen Institute, a nonprofit think tank, say the numbers will be higher – that up to 23 million American renters may be at risk of eviction by the end of September, according to ABC News.

Some 50 million people have filed for unemployment insurance since the pandemic struck in March, and more than 16 million were still receiving benefits as of last week.

“You’d have to go back to the Great Depression to find the kind of numbers we’re looking at right now,”  John Pollock of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel told the Brooklyn Eagle.  “There’s almost no precedent for this, which is why it’s so scary.”

Pollock added: “The only reason we haven’t already seen 2 million eviction filings is because of all the CARES [Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security] Act relief that at this point is either going or gone.”

Anne Kat Alexander, the project lead of the COVID-19 Housing Policy Scorecard at Princeton's Eviction Lab, said her group expects "millions of families to face eviction and homelessness over the next several months."

The Trump administration and Senate Republicans are expected to release a $1 trillion stimulus package next week – but it will likely feature weekly unemployment benefits well below the $600 figure from the prior round. Democrats have countered with a $3.5 trillion package that would offer higher unemployment benefits.

Mary Cunningham, vice president of the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute, warned: “If Congress doesn’t do anything, I think we are in for a dark fall and winter.”

Michele Evermore, a senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project, told ABC News that  "people who are unemployed and getting $600 [a week], they're going to fall off a cliff. The median benefit in a state like Mississippi is around $212 a week. In Arizona, the maximum benefit is $240 a week. So people are going to go from $840 to $240 overnight."

Mark Hamrick, Bankrate's senior economic analyst said the extra $600 is "critically important” as "many Americans were hanging on by a thread coming into this crisis to the extent that they were living paycheck to paycheck."

The expiration of this financial assistance "obviously causes real stress, and that translates to the risk that people aren't even able to put food on the table," Hamrick added. "These people aren't going to be able to pay their rent anymore. Their landlords won't be able to get money.”

Stout Risius Ross estimates landlords may not receive more than $22 billion in rent over the next four months.

In New York – which is set to end its eviction moratorium on Aug. 20 – some 1.5 million people are at risk of eviction.

Eviction cases will likely tie up the court system.

“Under normal circumstances, you go to court, do a [stipulation], the tenant gets a payout or you have an agreement,” attorney Domenick Napoletano said. “However, for instance, the Human Resources Administration has no money right now. They have absolutely no money to give tenants assistance to pay arrears. So what are we doing?”

Emily Benfer, law professor at Wake Forest University School of Law, placed the matter in stark terms.

“At a time when sheltering in place is paramount to stabilizing the United States and controlling the pandemic, our country is on the brink of a housing crisis of unprecedented magnitude that could devastate the renters, property owners and the entire housing market,” she said.