Writer: Sara Warden
2 min read August 2021 — As the real estate market across the country continues to heat up, one of the more controversial talking points is the ongoing eviction and foreclosure moratorium. The initiative was designed to ensure that nobody was left homeless during the global pandemic. With an eventual end to the moratorium on the horizon, authorities are taking action to protect renters and avoid a deluge of evictions.
For landlords and banks, and even for tenants, the eviction moratorium has created significant pressure. For those landlords who rent out properties, they must still pay mortgages or risk falling delinquent. And campaigners have worries that, as soon as the moratorium ends, there will be a windfall of evictions.
In fact, as of July 29, eviction filings were building up in the courts. The CDC eviction moratorium and other protections have prevented an estimated 2.2 million eviction filings since March 2020. A census in early July showed that more than 3 million people said they were likely to be evicted “within the next two months,” and nearly 5 million renters said they won’t be able to pay August rent. In New Jersey, renters are at a greater risk of eviction and Black renters are at more than double the risk of eviction compared to white renters.
In an effort to help, Cumberland County has announced the availability of a $16.7 million emergency rental fund that will assist renters facing economic constraints to pay past-due rent. Eligible applicants need to simply fill out an application form. Households within Cumberland County who have one or more residents eligible for unemployment benefits or who have experienced hardship related to the pandemic, are eligible to apply. One or more householders must be able to demonstrate risk of homelessness and household income must be below 80% of the area median income to qualify. The system is designed to help the most vulnerable populations avoid homelessness, authorities say.
In addition to Cumberland County’s efforts, within the state of New Jersey, there are regulations to protect vulnerable residents. Across the state, renter households with income below 120% of the county area median income will be permanently protected against eviction due to non-payment of rent or habitual delinquencies. Low- and moderate-income households who have experienced COVID-related economic impact are also protected from eviction through Dec. 31, 2021.
Last week, the CDC issued a new order to temporarily halt evictions in high-transmission areas. Modeling by the agency showed that the lifting of the eviction moratorium would cause a 30% increase in transmission rates. This would cause an estimated 1,000 to 100,000 excess cases of the virus, the authors say.
The initiative put in place by Cumberland County and the new eviction moratorium implemented by the CDC go a long way in protecting the most vulnerable populations, but many others are at risk of eviction as soon as the moratorium ends. Additionally, landlords face fines or prison terms for violating the federal order, but are also under pressure from banks to pay mortgages.