Grace Ross is drowning in paperwork. Literally. Her office is filled with boxes, overflowing with affidavits. The housing crisis in this country she says has taken on a life of its own.
“We’re talking about a long-term economic impact,” said Grace.
Grace, runs an anti-foreclosure non-profit. Where every day her team is fielding calls from people who have run out of money to pay their rent and are now facing eviction.
“People are panicked, I think the low-level panic that we’re all running around COVID already and then you add that elders might die on the street, or children who can’t go to school remotely. Moratoriums on evictions have largely ran out nationwide,” added Grace.
COVID cases are also spiking across the country and Americans who are trying to quarantine at home to stay safe, are in jeopardy of losing their homes.
Housing courts in many states are still closed. So eviction hearings, which happen before a family is forced to leave, have to be done via Zoom which presents its own challenges.
“One of the areas of law where people self-represent the most is evictions cases, so it’s the worst case to have this happen in,” said Grace.
Grace is also an attorney. Before COVID, lawyers would often resolve cases without a judge getting involved. Now though, evictions hearings are being drawn out because attorneys can’t meet in-person. Adding another layer of complexity to the housing crisis.
Nearly 12 million adults live in households that missed their last rent payment. 23 million have little or no confidence in their ability to make their next rent payment. It's not just renters. Landlords who make less than $50,000 a year are also being hit hard because they get most of their income from tenant’s rent.
The CDC has a ban through the end of the year on actual evictions. But that doesn’t mean eviction hearings aren’t going forward in court.
“That street level economy is the one that is just collapsing under the weight of COVID in a million different ways,” said Grace.
A fractured economy, struggling to heal in the middle of the pandemic.
Here's the rebound rundown. Most states, including Florida, have non-profits working to help renters on the brink of eviction. If yuo fall behind on your rent, talk to your landlord to see if you can work out a plan. Keep copies of important documents, including your lease. Reach out for a housing non-profit, they typically provide free legal help.
Here are a few organizations you can reach out to: