Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Rural homelessness could go up once federal pandemic measures expire; study ranks states by risk

"With federal unemployment benefits ending soon and moratoriums on evictions soon to follow, social services organizations are bracing for a homelessness crisis to hit rural Americans," Liz Carey reports for The Daily Yonder. "The agencies and churches that would normally help are already stretched thin by the pandemic, says one nonprofit administrator."

Nationwide, around 20 million renters are at risk of eviction once the expanded unemployment insurance expires, according to a study from the Covid-19 Eviction Defense Project, an organization founded in March to study the looming problem and suggest solutions. According to their research, "mass evictions would be a disaster," The Aspen Institute reports. "For both individuals and families, evictions result in severe harm; when they become widespread, there are also significant consequences for entire communities and even the speed of economic recovery."

In more than a dozen states, governors halted evictions, but federal guidelines in the CARES Act lift some eviction moratoria on Aug. 24, and that could increase pressure on renters. In Kentucky, which has a moratorium, landlords are still trying to evict tenants who can't pay rent, sending them threatening texts, letters, or even disconnecting utilities, according to Adrienne Bush, executive director for the Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky. Landlords have filed suit against the moratorium and Gov. Andy Beshear's administration is in mediation with them on the issue.

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