Tag Archives: tenants

CDC’s Eviction Ban, Please and Maybe

New Orleans     I didn’t want to be right on this, but from any reading of the Center for Disease Control’s federal eviction ban, it was clear that it was going to be a hot mess when it came to implementation.  At one level, the order was full of a Swiss cheese of holes left open to subjective interpretation, self-certification, and potentially contentious disagreements.  The CDC offered no straight path for tenants to follow, other than a declaration statement of their income, and no incentive for landlords to do anything but grin and bear it, which they are notoriously unable to do.  With neither the tenants nor the landlords getting any relief, they would all just swim in the unhappy stew until the end of the year.  What could go wrong?  Just about everything it had seemed to me, and, tragically, that seems to be playing out around the country.

A story by Matthew Goldstein in the New York Times makes the case that any dental inspection of the CDC order to determine whether or not it has any teeth or is all gums, pretty much depends on where you live and even what judge you might happen to draw, if you are facing eviction.  Local judges in North Carolina have questioned the constitutionality of the order, and a landlord in Atlanta has filed suit over the question. Some judges believe the order only affects tenants who were covered under the CARES stimulus package.  Some think it only deals with new filings or freezes them in place.  Some don’t seem to care what the order says and ignore it completely.  About the only encouraging word came out of New Hampshire of all places where,

…the state’s Supreme Court has put the onus on the landlords. An order from the court said they must file affidavits stating that they are in compliance with the C.D.C. order before commencing an eviction proceeding and must notify the court if at any point a tenant signs a declaration saying she can’t pay rent because of the pandemic.

Anarchy rules and tenants suffer.  Housing advocates, lawyers, and professors who study this are all unanimous in arguing that there needs to be uniform interpretation and implementation of the order, but without a real mechanism for enforcement, how is that going to happen?  The fines detailed in the order were significant, but I would take a bet that when this is all said and done, less than a handful of landlords will suffer any penalties, and one or none will end up with a $200,000 hit.  This is actually why we elect people to Congress to make real laws and real policies that have the full strength of the federal government, and proof again why the US pandemic response has been so lame and incompetent.

Meanwhile the big boys do what they want, when they want, and how they want.  According to the Private Equity Stakeholder Project,

Corporate landlords, including private equity firms, filed more than 1,500 eviction actions in large counties in Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Texas since the C.D.C. announced it was imposing a moratorium….

What’s a $100 or $200,000 fine to the big whoops, compared to losing rent from tenants, imperiled and out of work?  It’s chickenfeed, and makes a mockery of the order from the CDC providing any hope for most tenants as little more than chicken scratch.

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Tenants are Facing Eviction Across America

New Orleans       Recession is here.  Layoffs are in the millions.  The service industry is hammered.  Small businesses are underwater, while the Senate Republicans are only listening to big corporations.  Trump is trying to elbow Dr. Fauci out of the way for getting too much attention as a truthteller at his fabricated daily press conferences spinning out whatever comes to mind in his happy valley.  I have to admit, he tricked me for a minute, as well.  When he said he was halting evictions nationally, I thought he was talking about tenants.  It turns out he had conflated the terms “evictions” and “foreclosures.”  He was ordering a temporary halt to foreclosures for homeowners.  HUD has frozen evictions for public housing tenants, but otherwise the federal government is silent on the fate of forty million tenants across the country.

Other countries where ACORN works have acted on our demands for tenants.  The United Kingdom has frozen evictions.  Canada has taken action.  France has halted evictions.  In the United States, once again, leadership has defaulted to states and cities, but the pattern is patchy and in many cases the relief is extremely short term and undefined.

At the state level, California has halted evictions until May 31st.  Delaware has “paused” until May 1st, while Illinois has paused until April 8th.  Indiana has stopped evictions “until the crisis is over.” Louisiana has stepped up and stopped all evictions indefinitely.  Maryland has acted “only for tenants related to the virus.”  Massachusetts has blocked evictions.  Michigan has done so until April 17th.  New Hampshire has stopped them, and New Jersey has haled for sixty days.  New York has stood tall and said none for three months.  North Carolina has said thirty days.  Pennsylvania has stopped them only for a minute until April 3rd.  Rhode Island is in for thirty days, as is Texas and Washington.  Virginia has blocked until April 8th.  Maybe I’m missing something, but my rough count is some action from almost nothing to three months has been taken by seventeen states, and, yes, the District of Columbia has suspended, and absolutely nothing has been done in thirty-three states.  Some cities have done much better, but it’s not a  huge parade there either.

Don’t get me wrong according to various websites, some of them are talking about it and even thinking about it, but people are hurting and worrying, and they are fiddling.  Most of this data, I found at a website connected to something called fool.com, which gives a sense to all of us of who is really keeping track.

This jigsaw puzzle is actually why we have a federal government and need a president or someone around there to take action and remember that tenants count too, not just the big boys with the three-piece suits.  That is something we need to put on our list for later.

In the meantime, we need to stop evictions now!

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Please enjoy Gordon_Lightfoot_Solo_Oh_So_Sweet_

Thanks to WAMF.

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