Millions at risk of eviction after moratorium expires

Millions of Americans who are behind on their rent could soon be evicted.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A nationwide ban on evictions expired Saturday during a surge in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Millions of Americans are now at risk of eviction, some in a matter of days.

“Not only do I expect to see mass evictions across the country and filings, I also expect to see all of those cases that are currently on hold immediately move forward and widespread eviction in all of those cities and states where tenants were being protected from the federal moratorium,” said Emily Benfer, chair of the American Bar Association Task Force on Eviction, Housing Stability and Equity.

The moratorium was put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of the COVID-19 crisis when jobs shifted and many workers lost income.

James Taylor, a local landlord, said he has dealt with people abusing the eviction moratorium.

“I rented to him two years ago, and he had four jobs in that first year. He’s been milking the system ever since I met him,” he said.

He said he does have some tenants who were greatly affected by COVID-19 and used it the right way.

“The two tenants that were impacted by COVID, they were infected,” he said.

The moratorium didn’t forgive unpaid rent -- it moved debt into the future.

Taylor said one tenant was infected with COVID-19 a year ago and is still apply for COVID-19 assistance and isn’t paying his rent. Taylor said he’s relived the moratorium came to an end.

“I don’t like people stealing from people who really qualify for assistance,” he said. “Assistance should not be permanent. It should be temporary.”

The eviction ban was intended to prevent further virus spread by people put out on the streets and into shelters. Congress approved nearly $47 billion in federal housing aid to the states during the pandemic, but it has been slow to make it into the hands of renters and landlords owed payments.

The day before the ban was set to expire, Biden called on local governments to “take all possible steps” to immediately disburse the funds.

RELATED: Florida has distributed only 2% of funds to help renters

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged House Democrats in a letter Saturday night to check into how the money already allocated has been distributed so far in their own states and localities.

About the Authors:

Brie Isom joined the News4JAX team in January 2021 after spending three years covering news in South Bend, Indiana.