What Eviction Moratorium? Tenants Have Been Getting Tossed to the Streets Throughout the Pandemic

“When the state wants to protect anyone, it rarely wants to protect everyone,” Joshua Poe, Investigator with the Root Cause Research Center, tells Status Coup

On Thursday, the Center for Disease Control extended the federal eviction moratorium by a month through the end of July; likely the final extension before millions of people are evicted in the simmering heat of August.

But despite the CDC eviction moratorium—that was most recently extended in March through June 30th before today’s extension through the end of July— over 378,728 evictions have been filed by landlords in the United States. Just last week landlords filed 5,984 evictions, according to Princeton University’s Eviction Lab.

In New York, landlords filed 58,664 evictions since March 15th and 748 evictions just last week, according to data from The Eviction Lab, a project launched from the Root Cause Research Center. New York isn’t alone; Phoenix and Houston both had over 30,000 evictions filed since March.

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Rampant corruption, abuse of power and loopholes in the federal eviction moratorium have allowed landlords to force people out of their homes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic that has taken 600,000 American lives.

Status Coup uncovered endless legal loopholes on-the-ground as part of its current on-the-ground reporting trip on the looming eviction apocalypse and exploding homelessness that included reporting in Philadelphia, Cleveland, Louisville, and West Virginia. 

“What we found essentially was that there is no eviction moratorium, the loopholes were so large that landlords were able to evict based on a number of reasons,” Joshua Poe, co-founder of the Root Cause Research Center, told Status Coup.

Since the federal eviction moratorium protects tenants from being evicted from their homes due to non-payment of rent, landlords in Louisville and other parts of the country have seized on loopholes by evicting tenants under the guise of nuisance complaints or simply due to their lease being up. And like most cities in America, eviction judges typically side with the landlords who come to eviction court with attorneys over working poor tenants who typically can’t afford legal representation.

Corruption within local government also prevents tenants from fighting their evictions as real estate developers flood local city politicians with campaign cash—the politicians who are supposed to be representing these same constituents being evicted during a pandemic.

Louisville landlords also received massive amounts of government subsidies to help tenants with rent. But, like in other cities, they ended up pocketing the bulk of the relief money meant to keep their tenants housed and used it to renovate or develop their property in order to lure in tenants at higher prices.

Or, more simply put, landlords engaged in sleazy double dipping in a country full of sleazy special-interest double dipping.

Making matters even more corrupt, landlords have also gotten into bed financially with non-profits whose missions are supposed to center around helping tenants. This unholy financial alliance is what Poe called the “non-profit industrial complex”—where landlords, real-estate developers, and supposedly virtuous non-profits essentially control the government and every aspect of tenants' living situations.

With this trio also getting the green light from government officials they donate money to, they’re able to blatantly violate tenant’s rights without repercussions. 

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“I mean, you have a legal system,” Poe continued. “That's kind of rooted into the very foundation of the country that is to protect the rights of property owners to profit from their property. And everything kind of grows from the roots of that. So everything we find in local government in the nonprofit sector are just branches from that system of basically settler colonialism and racial capitalism.”

This corruption isn’t exclusive to  Louisville—it’s become a nationwide crisis. Status Coup was recently on the ground in Philadelphia where police have routinely evicted the city’s growing homeless population from their tent communities at the direction of the local city government controlled by Democrats.

This is the same city government that recently received $35.5 million from the federal government meant to go toward affordable housing for the homeless. In Orlando, Marvia Robinson, a bus driver, was evicted from her home after her landlord refused to take money from a local rent aid program. When Robinson questioned the landlord’s refusal, she was told that the property management company cited “landlord restrictions.”

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In Louisville, landlords also disproportionately target tenants who are minorities, routinely evicting them as the city tries to gentrify the majority minority west side of Louisville; especially in the Russel and Smoketown neighborhoods. Evictions also predominantly target Black and Hispanic tenants in Texas, according to the  Texas Tribune.

“We would be waiting for an hour and then the call would drop,” Nina Maldonado told the Tribune. “We never managed to get help to fill up the forms.”

Ultimately, the eviction epidemic is only going to get worse as the federal moratorium is set to expire at the end of July. The impending acceleration of our existing new Gilded Age is by design, Poe concluded.

“When the state wants to protect anyone, it rarely wants to protect everyone.”

-Christian Maitre

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