Does California still face a tsunami of eviction when the moratorium ends?
The moratorium on evictions in California comes to an end on June 30. Since the early days of the pandemic, housing analysts have worried about a tsunami of evictions whenever the state lifts protections for tenants.
Will there be a tsunami of evictions after the moratorium ends? Or a smaller wave? CalMatters asked Carolina Reid, associate professor of urban and regional planning at the University of California, Berkeley. The following interview has been edited slightly for clarity and length.
A few months ago, we discussed a possible eviction cliff. Are we still going to that cliff?
Governor Gavin Newsom’s recent announcement that California cover 100% of the rent owed by tenants is good news and will help mitigate the worst impacts of the pandemic on tenant households. Depending on the timing of those payments, ending the moratoriums on evictions on June 30 may be less difficult than many thought.
But it is not clear whether a) the relief will come to all households who need it soon enough and b) there are sufficient funds to reimburse the rent due.
There is also the question of how long it will take to regain full jobs and wages, and whether households have incurred other forms of unsustainable debt – for example, through credit cards or debt. other more expensive products like payday loans – to make ends meet during the pandemic.
How many people are threatened by the tsunami of evictions? How much will they owe?
PolicyLink’s analysis suggests that approximately 900,000 households in California are behind on rent, with an average of $ 4,600 in rent arrears.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s rental debt estimates are higher – they estimate that nationally, the average amount of rent arrears (for those who are not paid on their rent) is closer to $ 8,000.
In a new study we’re about to release next week, we take a look at the actual rental debt of households living in subsidized housing – and therefore those with below-market rents. Even then, a small proportion of those who are in arrears with rent payments have accumulated more than $ 5,000 in rental debt. So I think these other estimates are reasonable averages, although of course some families may owe a lot more.
Our study also shows that families also struggle with the costs of food and may struggle to pay rent because they also help families who may be in greater need. Even as things are starting to open up, I think a lot of families are still really reeling from the economic and emotional impact of this crisis.
What do you see in the Household census survey that was carried out during the pandemic? What do the polls suggest that could happen when the moratorium is lifted?
The Census Pulse Survey results have been fairly consistent over time – there has been some improvement in recent waves, and there is some volatility around the estimates due to the small sample size, but in general, about 12% to 15% of renters in California report being behind on rent, and just over a third believe they are very or somewhat likely to be deported in the next two months.
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