Millions of Americans may not be able to pay rent in October


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Jasmine Johnson is constantly afraid of being evicted from her home in St. Paul, Minnesota. The single mother of five children, all under the age of 13, has been unable to earn enough during the pandemic to keep up with her $1,350 rent.

First, the daycare where she worked reduced its hours. Recently, she was rehired at a family shelter as a customer spokesperson, but she is now showing symptoms of the coronavirus and must be quarantined.

“I would have to call shelters to be on the waitlist, Johnson, 31, said. “But you don’t know when your name will appear.

“It’s really hard to be homeless with five kids,” she added. “It’s going to be cold outside.”

The coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult for many Americans to generate income and, therefore, to pay their rent. In the United States, as many as 34 million people are at risk of deportation, according to a new analysis by a global consulting firm Stout Risius Ross. Approximately 1 out of 6 tenants were in arrears in September. This trend should continue in October.

“The United States is facing the most serious housing crisis in history,” said Emily Benfer, eviction expert and visiting professor of law at Wake Forest University.

Risk of deportation?

Most tenants who are struggling to pay their rent will be able to stay in their homes until the end of the year, thanks to an announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month which made deportations for non-payment illegal.

You will need to certify on a declaration form that you meet a few requirements, such as expecting to earn less than $99,000 per year in 2020. Documentation will generally not be required.

“If a tenant cannot pay the rent, they must provide the declaration to their landlord as soon as possible,” Benfer said.

Try to deliver the form to your landlord in person and be sure to keep a copy for yourself.

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Unfortunately, some landlords seem to misinterpret or ignore the CDC ban and continue to file evictions anyway.

Jim Baker, Executive Director of the Private Equity Stakeholder Projectidentified more than 3,500 new eviction cases filed by business owners since the moratorium was announced on September 1.

“These evictions by private equity firms and other business owners threaten the health of their residents and the general public,” Baker said.

Another problem is that states interpret CDC ban inconsistently. (For example, the CDC do not say anything on tenants who must provide documents to prove that they are eligible for protection in addition to the declaration form but, in Maryland, proof may be required.)

If you are facing an eviction, you first want to try to understand what protections are available to you. In addition to the CDC ban, some states have published their own rules regarding the procedure.

Try to get a lawyer before your hearing. A study in New Orleans found that over 65% of tenants without legal representation were evicted, compared to less than 15% of those with an attorney.

Sometimes the documents you receive with your court date will contain contact information for legal services in your area. If not, you should be able to find your agency online, said Alexis Erkertattorney at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services.

“The court may also be able to give people contact information,” Erkert said.

You can also find low-cost or free legal help for an eviction in your state at

Either way — and whether it’s by phone, video, or in person — try to be present at your hearing, Erkert said.

“A lot of tenants don’t show up, which means they will get a default judgment against them,” she added. “If they show up, many judges will at least give them more time to move.”

Other options

During this time, at, you can search for community resources for people at risk of eviction. And some states and cities have funds allocated to help people stay home.

Arizona has budgeted $5 million For this purpose. Delaware residents can request up to $1,500 in rental assistance. Similar relief measures have been made available to people in Montana, Ohio, Iowa and New York.

If you are accepted for help, be sure to let your landlord know immediately. Many landlords are showing a willingness to work with tenants who request payment plans, the experts add.

Some tenants use their credit cards to cover their rent. Few landlords or property managers accept plastic, so you will need to find a third-party processor, such as Plastic, PayPal or RadPad.

“Their argument is that you could pay them with a credit card and then they would send a check to your landlord or send an electronic funds deposit,” said analyst Ted Rossman.

But this option should only be used in extreme situations. Companies charge a fee (up to 2.85%, Rossman said), and then if you can’t pay the credit card balance immediately, you’ll pay interest. The average rate on a card is currently around 16%.

Other ways to find rent may include borrowing from family and friends or your retirement planRossman said.


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