Pandemic’s Over, Evictions Skyrocket: A Call to Arms for Housing Justice

In the wake of the pandemic, we’re facing another crisis. Evictions are rocketing as the nationwide moratoriums that were put in place during the Covid-era draw to a close. In some cities, eviction filings have surged to a staggering 50 percent higher than pre-pandemic levels.

For low-income renters, the situation is even more dire now than it was before Covid struck. Factors such as astronomical rent increases during the pandemic, rising inflation, and other financial pressures of the pandemic era have left these individuals teetering on the edge of a precipice, according to Daniel Grubbs-Donovan, a research specialist at Eviction Lab.

During the early days of the pandemic, the federal government passed a moratorium on evictions, which the Centers for Disease Control later broadened. These temporary life rafts, however, expired in 2021, and the $46 billion earmarked for emergency rental assistance during the pandemic era has run dry. As a result, renters are struggling to stay afloat. Places like Houston, Minneapolis, and Nashville, where rents have skyrocketed, but incomes have lagged, are witnessing particularly high rates of evictions.

And, as always, it’s those most at risk who are suffering the worst. Poor women of color, families with children, and survivors of domestic violence face a heightened risk of eviction. During the pandemic, eviction filings fell by over half in predominantly Black neighborhoods. Yet, even these decreased rates surpassed filings in white neighborhoods before the pandemic and the moratoriums.

Evictions are much more than just a housing crisis. They’re a societal crisis. Evictions trigger financial upheaval, displacement, disruption of social networks, and psychological stress, notes Gabriel Schwartz, a social epidemiologist and postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco’s Social Policies for Health Equity Research Program.

The bleak side of the coin is that eviction rates in some cities have hit all-time highs since the pandemic began. But let’s not forget the flip side: the relentless efforts of housing advocates pushing for change. Advocates are tirelessly fighting to curb evictions and improve access to affordable housing by advocating for policies like free legal aid for tenants and sealing evictions after a certain time.

Matthew Desmond, the founder of Eviction Lab, recognizes this urgency, especially among the younger generation: “People, and especially young people, are just feeling the acute stress and frustration when it comes to things like eviction, or double-digit rent hikes or just the violence and unfairness of what it means to be a renter in America. And they are pushing hard against that.”

So, let’s turn the rising eviction crisis into a rallying cry for housing justice. Let’s strive for a future where affordable housing isn’t just a dream, but a reality because everyone deserves a place to call home.