With the state moratorium on evictions lifted today, the dog days of summer could bring a tidal wave of evictions amid late summer heat and humidity in the commonwealth.
An analysis from global advisory firm Stout Risius Ross found that more than 40% of renter households in the U.S. could soon be at risk of eviction because of financial instability brought on by COVID-19. In the Bluegrass State, 44.26% of Kentucky’s renters and homeowners — some 221,000 households — are at risk with as many as 149,000 estimated total evictions in the next four months.
With many Americans’ rent due, economic conditions surrounding COVID-19 have produced something of a perfect storm to potentially leave many homeless with a national eviction moratorium having expired July 24, around 25 million Americans stopped receiving $600 weekly federal unemployment checks Friday and the renewed industry shutdowns to stop the spread of the virus all coming simultaneously.
“We already had a shortage of affordable housing in Kentucky … so combine that with the unemployment debacle that has happened due to an outdated system and the expiration of the pandemic unemployment benefits at the federal level and a premature push to open the court system for evictions,” said Adrienne Bush, executive director for the Homeless & Housing Coalition of Kentucky.
Kentucky’s eviction moratorium was put in place by Gov. Andy Beshear in late March and clarified to apply to non-pay evictions in May. The Kentucky Supreme Court issued an order Tuesday to allow eviction proceedings to resume effective Saturday subject to the requirements of the federal coronavirus relief package issued in March.
While a solution will be hard-fought, Bush believes that the federal and state governments need to take strong, decisive action in the form of a national eviction moratorium — potentially as part of the HEALS legislation being shepherded through congress by Sen. Mitch McConnell — “so that everybody knows where they stand.” This, she said, should come in conjunction with “massive” rent relief in the amount of $100 billion.
Data provided by the National Low Income Housing Coalition suggests that Kentucky alone would need $965 million to keep people housed and make landlords whole through May 2021.
“This eviction crisis has the potential to be more than a crisis, worse than the housing crash of 2008 and really is a threat to become a tsunami of evictions that will take families and communities out,” she said.
“Evictions are a no-win for the landlord, the family and the community.”