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A Record-Breaking Amount of Evictions Is Likely to Occur in January 2021
More American renters could be evicted from their homes in January than in any month ever, as protections put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic expire unless a last-minute deal is reached to extend them. Between 2.4 million and 5 million American households are at risk in January alone.
Gretchen Purser is an associate professor of sociology in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Her research focuses on precarious work and the low-wage labor market and the reproduction and lived experience of urban poverty in the U.S. She is the recipient of numerous awards for her research and teaching, including the 2016 Daniel Patrick Moynihan Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching and Research and the 2013 Meredith Teaching Recognition Award.
She has been a visiting scholar at both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the School for Advanced Research and her research has been funded by the American Sociological Association, the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research and the Sociological Initiatives Foundation. Since 2012, Purser has served as chair of the board of the Workers’ Center of Central New York. She also serves on the Community Advisory Board for Greater Syracuse HOPE.
Purser offers the following perspective:
“The most recent data I’ve seen, from the U.S. census, is that 12.4 million adult renters are significantly behind on rent and facing eviction as soon as the CDC moratorium expires in 17 days. Thousands of these rental households are already in eviction proceedings. This means we are facing devastation upon devastation: an unprecedented and almost inconceivable wave of eviction soon after the holidays and right at the height of the pandemic. As ample research has shown, the consequences of eviction are always deleterious. The consequence of this anticipated wave of eviction—in the midst of so much death and despair—will be devastating beyond belief. Housing justice advocates are doing everything they can to push for a continuation of the eviction moratorium. But since that simply punts the problem into the future, the more pertinent demands call for a relief package with ample rental assistance or the outright cancellation of rent, mortgage and utility payments until the end of the pandemic. Advocates are also preparing to take direct action to prevent evictions from taking place, should the moratorium be allowed to expire.”
Additionally, Purser offered these comments on President Trump’s eviction ban in September 2020:
“Obviously, the eviction ban was desperately needed to keep millions of renters from being cast out of their homes amidst this historic pandemic. Nevertheless, it does nothing to solve the fundamental crisis at hand. Renters are still on the hook to pay their rent, so this ban merely postpones until the end of the year what will be a tsunami of eviction, wrought by economic devastation.
Without a sweeping package of rental relief and cash assistance, this ban is a mere temporary bandaid. Moreover, as a sociologist and as an ethnographer, I’m worried about how this situation will impact relations between renters and landlords across the country. In many ways, the eviction ban absent any form of rental relief might exacerbate renters’ vulnerability and further undermine their access to safe, habitable housing.”
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