Without intervention, the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program and partners estimated that as many as 30-40 million Americans were at risk of eviction by the end of 2020
Contact: Jon Purves
The Aspen Institute
Senior Media Relations Manager
Washington, DC, September 3, 2020 – Research from the Aspen Institute’s Financial Security Program was cited in an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), issued under the direction of the White House. According to a September 1 briefing, the order will “temporarily halt evictions through the end of 2020 in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.” Residential landlords will be prohibited from initiating eviction proceedings against tenants if they can show that they are unable to pay rent due to the impact of COVID-19.
The CDC order comes after the Aspen Institute and partners from eight additional institutes and organizations issued widely reported research in August finding that 30-40 million people in America would have been at risk of losing their homes in the next several months without federal intervention. 29% to 43% of renter households would have been at risk of eviction by the end of the year. They also found that people of color are particularly likely to be impacted by economic hardship, as COVID-19-related job loss affects Black and Hispanic Americans at a far higher rate than their white counterparts.
“As the economy continues to falter, this order provides welcome short-term relief for millions of renters who didn’t know if they would be able to keep a roof over their heads,” said Katherine Lucas McKay, Program Manager at the Financial Security Program. “Our research shows that inaction would have had catastrophic consequences in the form of mass evictions unprecedented in our lifetimes. However, the crucial missing piece is financial federal assistance – accruing rent arrears will be impossible to repay for many once this protection expires at the end of the year, and small property owners remain at risk of foreclosure and bankruptcy if they cannot pay mortgages.”
The CDC order, Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19, applies to individual renters who do not expect to earn more than $99,000 this year or $198,000 for joint filers. Referencing Aspen Institute figures, the order states that “In the absence of State and local protections, as many as 30–40 million people in America could be at risk of eviction. A wave of evictions on that scale would be unprecedented in modern times. A large portion of those who are evicted may move into close quarters in shared housing or… become homeless, thus contributing to the spread of COVID-19.”
If implemented, this moratorium can be a critical first step to avoid Great Depression level suffering for 30-40 million Americans,” said Sam Gilman, co-founder of the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project and lead analyst on the risk projections. “However, it is a temporary measure; unless it is coupled with cash assistance, it delays the harm but does not solve the underlying financial distress for landlords and tenants that is the root cause of eviction risk and the primary driver of our projections.”
The report was conducted by researchers from the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program, City Life, the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project, The Eviction Lab at Princeton University, the Innovation for Justice Program at the University of Arizona College of Law, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Stout, and Wake Forest University School of Law. It was issued following initial research in June 2020 that projected that mass evictions would threaten 19-23 million American renters.
Editor’s Note: Members of the media interested in speaking to COVID-19 Eviction Crisis researchers should contact Jon Purves: [email protected].
The Aspen Institute Financial Security Program’s (Aspen FSP) mission is to illuminate and solve the most critical financial challenges facing American households and to make financial security for all a top national priority. We aim for nothing less than a more inclusive economy with reduced wealth inequality and shared prosperity. Learn more at www.aspeninstitute.org/programs/financial-security-program/.
The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.