The rent is still due: America’s renters, COVID-19, and an unprecedented eviction crisis

eviction notice

Brookings Metro Fellow Jenny Schuetz testified to the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance on June 10, discussing the impacts of the COVID-19 economic crisis on renters, as well as potential channels Congress can leverage to address housing stability amid the pandemic.

Schuetz’s research shows that housing insecurity was a widespread problem among low-income renters long before the COVID-19 pandemic. The precarious situation of low-income renters today is, in part, the result of past policy choices made by federal, state, and local governments. The current recession has only exacerbated the existing vulnerabilities of low-income, Black, and Latino or Hispanic households, particularly as they have experienced higher rates of job loss.

Furthermore, Schuetz stressed that temporary eviction moratoriums implemented during the crisis are not long-term solutions to housing insecurity among renters. Not only will struggling households face a looming bill of overdue rent once these moratoriums end, but temporarily halting rent payments can also have harmful effects on landlords’ financial stability, especially small property owners.

To help renters and property owners weather the immediate crisis, Schuetz recommended three channels for action to the subcommittee:

  • Direct financial assistance to renters
  • Targeted financial support for landlords
  • Resources to assist local governments equitably manage eviction cases following the end of temporary eviction moratoriums.

To read her full testimony, click here. To watch the testimony video, click here.