An extended eviction ban is not enough for some struggling tenants

Should the package go ahead, none of the measures will likely be enough to keep the most risky tenants in their homes last January.

“While extending the CDC eviction moratorium by just one month is insufficient to keep people housed throughout the pandemic, the extension provides essential and immediate protection to millions of tenants on the verge of losing their homes in January,” said Diane Yentel. president and general manager of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

According to an analysis of Census data by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, an estimated 9.2 million tenants who lost income during the pandemic are behind on rent.

Once the moratoriums are lifted, many of these tenants are expected to pay their full rent in arrears or come up with some sort of payment plan with their landlord – otherwise, they would risk losing their homes.

CNN Business spoke to several renters who are struggling to pay their monthly payments due to the pandemic.

‘Money is piling up against me’

Kelly Green, who lives in a $ 1,429-a-month apartment in Daytona Beach, Florida, has been unable to pay rent since September.

“The only reason I have a roof over my head is because of the deportation moratorium,” Green said.

Green earns a living selling biker clothing with rhinestones and sequins at motorcycle rallies and other festivals.

After closing in March, there were no festivals, no events, and she had no income. Still, she pooled her savings, incentive fees, housing benefits, and unemployment insurance and managed to get on her rent through July. But she didn’t know how she would make ends meet after the $ 600 a week supplemental unemployment benefit ended.

Kelly Green said she only has a roof over her head because of the CDC's delay.

Green found out about a coronavirus-related rental fund being offered by Volusia County, where she lives. She applied for help and was awarded $ 4,500 for three months of rent.

“I thought, ‘Great!’ that will pay rent for a few months, and I can move in November if my current lease ends and I still have good credit that will allow me to rent an apartment for myself, ”she said.

But there was a catch: Volusia County’s rental assistance program requires tenants to be aware of the rent by March 13, 2020. Green was behind on her rent in February and as a result her apartment complex did not accept the aid.

Without that money, Green couldn’t pay the full rent for October, November or December. And since she broke her lease in November, she now has a monthly lease that’s $ 500 a month more expensive.

“Even if the moratorium is extended, the money will accumulate against me,” she said. “What would help me the most is if I get a three-month rental assistance check, they take it.”

She knows there’s no point in staying and watching the amount she owes grow, but she said she doesn’t know where she’s going to go without friends and family at risk of being exposed to the coronavirus.

“It makes you totally depressing,” she said. ‘You feel like giving up. Where should I go when the CDC warrant expires and I have this deportation on my file? ‘

I have to be gone for Christmas

Mercedes Darby lives in a three-bedroom apartment in Nashville with her three high school students and her daughter, Princess Thomas, who is in college. The two usually share the rent. But since both were fired in March, they haven’t been able to pay rent of $ 1,250 a month since April, and are currently owed $ 9,000 in rent and fees in arrears.

Although Darby has provided her landlord with a CDC statement protecting the family from eviction for non-payment, they are now being evicted for a separate lease violation – Darby’s name is not on the lease.

How will you spend your $ 600 stimulus check?

Darby says the lease is in Thomas’s name, but she’s lived there since they got the apartment together a year and a half ago, and she’s been making payments all along.

After missing a December 15 date, there was a default judgment giving the family 10 days to leave. So Darby packs everything she owns to put it away.

“We have to be out on Christmas Day or they’ll have the sheriffs here,” she said. “Without money I have to find a temporary place.”

Darby was fired from a major insurance company in March. She had been looking for a new apartment since July. But even after paying the application fee, she was repeatedly turned down due to her credit history and previous bankruptcy. Now her daughter is also likely to have problems because of this deportation.

In November, Darby was hired again for a similar job and money is coming in again. But because of its history, she now has to pay much more in fees and deposit money for an apartment.

“I have a well-paid job,” she said. “I make enough if you don’t want three times the amount in advance.”

For now, she’s looking for a place for her family to stay during the holidays as she finds a more permanent home and prepares for her February court date with the rent she owes.

“We don’t have to go anywhere,” she said. ‘We don’t have any family here and our friends can’t take us all. I’m going to try to find a hotel. But that costs all the money I have to spend on another apartment. ‘

Waiting for rental lighting

Bryan Clift’s job as a waiter in a Minneapolis suburb dried up last March, while school for his 10-year-old daughter Iyla went online. Iyla’s mother, whom she didn’t see regularly, died a few weeks ago. Now, Clift is about $ 2,000 in rent arrears and they are at risk of eviction.

“My daughter is all I have,” he said. ‘I put her before everything. Making sure she has a roof over her head and food on the table is the most important thing. ‘

The unemployment insurance benefits he received went well all summer. But when the $ 600 weekly additional payment ended, he feared he would fall behind on his $ 1,500 monthly rent for the two-bedroom apartment.

Bryan Clift with his daughter Iyla.  Clift has been out of work since March and is in arrears with rent for his apartment in the Minneapolis suburbs.

“When I saw my savings drop, I started talking to the lease people, with whom I have always had a good relationship,” he said. ‘I said I would do my best. They suggested I apply for rent. ‘

He has filed and expects to receive aid money from Prism, a local social services nonprofit. But it is not yet under control.

“It’s a waiting game,” he said. “If you start asking for help now, it will take a while.”

With this expected support, he hopes to bridge the income gap until he can return to work.

“I could get a job now,” he said. “I want it. I don’t like to hang out. But without the schools open, I can’t go to work. If something doesn’t change for me in the next few months, what should I do? Any bill I can pay back. And this one. rent reduction will help, but for how long? ‘

Any extra help from the government is welcome, he said, but “I could do without the incentive check if I had better unemployment, because you can stretch that out longer.”

Deported despite CDC protection

The worst has already happened to Jordan Mills and Jonathan Russell and their two-year-old daughter Valkyrie.

Although they were protected by the deportation moratorium, a court allowed an expulsion.

Mills thought she was doing everything right. She provided the CDC declaration form that protected her from eviction to her landlord. She filed and received rental lighting money from the City of San Antonio. She even set up a payment plan.

“People like me are still being expelled for non-payment,” she said.

Jordan Mills and husband Jonathan Russell with their daughter Valkyrie.  The family was evicted from their San Antonio home, despite providing a CDC statement to their landlord.

She made a payment arrangement with her landlord, but fell behind about $ 450. Property owners filed for eviction, citing a violation of part of the CDC statement in which Mills agreed to “make every effort to make timely partial payments as close to full payment as possible. circumstances of the individual permit “.

Mills drove to the courthouse to appear at her hearing, but said she couldn’t attend because she didn’t have the money to pay for the parking.

“I couldn’t pay for parking, it’s all $ 20,” she said. “I literally live from hand to mouth. I got paid yesterday. I have $ 4 in my name.”

In May, Mills, who is an assistant manager at a payday loan company, cut her hours. She realized that during the summer in Texas, her family would not be able to pay their rent and their high utility bills.

She applied for and received rental assistance money, a lump sum payment of $ 3,500 for three months of rent.

When Mills contracted the coronavirus, she said, their daycare worker dropped them as a precaution and her husband left his job as a security guard to take care of Valkyrie full-time, further cutting their income.

Landlords are out of money.  'We will not get unemployment'

After the court ordered their deportation in November, they did not wait for the sheriff to arrive. Mills borrowed $ 1,400 from her mother and moved her family from the three-bedroom mobile home, which they rented for $ 1,175 a month, to a 470-square-foot one-bedroom apartment in San Antonio.

The family’s new apartment is located in a building known as “second chance” rental, for those with eviction or bad credit.

Mills paid a heavy price for that second chance. In addition to the $ 750 per month rent, a $ 299 security deposit, and a $ 300 pet deposit, she also had to pay a $ 650 risk fee due to her past.

“The worst has happened,” she said. ‘But I’m still worried about how it will affect me if I rent somewhere bigger, somewhere safer. We have cockroaches. I don’t want to stay here. ‘

While she appreciates the rent cut they got, she said more housing benefit should go directly to the landlords.

“If there was something for them, they wouldn’t be so quick to call in the tenants.”