As many states’ eviction freezes expire, more families are losing their homes due to the current economic recession. By September 30, between 19 million and 23 million families that rent apartments and houses will be at risk of eviction, according to an estimate by the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project, a group that advocates for housing rights during the coronavirus crisis.
Being evicted from a home can affect children and families in far-reaching ways. Children in evicted families often miss more school and experience behavioral and learning problems. Families can end up in a cycle of unstable housing because many landlords don’t want to rent to those who have been evicted in the past. And evictions are especially troubling during a pandemic, since moving in with relatives or friends, staying at a shelter, or living on the street could lead to a greater risk of infection for everyone involved.
Eviction protection for certain properties under the federal CARES Act expires on July 25, and some states’ eviction freezes have already run out or are set to end on August 1. So if you rent your home and are struggling to catch up on payments due to the current crisis, what can you do to avoid eviction for your family?
First, you can explain your situation to your landlord and ask if they can offer your family a special arrangement, like paying a smaller amount of rent for a few months. Some landlords might be a lot more accommodating than others. The app DoNotPay can help you contact your landlord to try to defer payments and avoid late fees, and offers other guidance for reducing your bills.
If that doesn’t pan out, there are many other resources available. See what types of rental assistance programs exist where you live by browsing the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s list. You can also consult with a lawyer through Legal Aid (which offers free attorney services for civil matters such as evictions) and to understand what your options are in your city, county, and state.
The 211 service can help anyone nationwide find ways to pay for food or housing if they’re struggling. And the nonprofit organization Just Shelter provides a list of tenants’ unions and housing rights organizations for each state that might be able to support your case or point you to local resources.
If you need a small amount of cash now (up to $200) to make rent, consider applying to The Conscious Kid’s COVID-19 Rent Relief Fund for Families. Alternatively, search for “Covid-19 rent relief fund + [your city]” to see what other local programs or community efforts are in place—many relief funds exist for workers in certain industries or other specific circumstances. You could even think about starting your own online fundraiser like this family did.
Millions of families have been hurt economically by the pandemic, but it helps to know that there are also many concerned members of the community who are willing to offer assistance during these times. Hopefully these resources will get you connected with what’s available in your area so that you can avoid something as devastating as eviction.