Chair of a House coronavirus subcommittee pledges investigation


Just days before the federal moratorium on evictions expired, lawmakers scrutinized the actions of corporate landlords, who filed tens of thousands of lawsuits seeking the removal of tenants during the pandemic.

Representative James E. Clyburn, chair of the House Elected Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, said the hearing was the opening salvo of the investigation, which he called “unfair eviction practices” by some major hosts. South Carolina Democrat Mr. Clyburn said he was dismayed by reports that some large property owners are taking action to evict tenants for not paying rent, even as the government tries to distribute tens of billions of dollars in emergency rent assistance funds.

last week Mr. Clyburn sent letters to four corporate landlords He said they were particularly aggressive in chasing low-income tenants and Black and Latino tenants. “Evacuations by corporate landlords have become common in minority communities,” he said.

Representatives of these homeowners did not speak at the hearing, but several housing advocates did.

Corporate homeowners rather than so-called mom-and-pop homeowners make up the majority, said Jim Baker, executive director of the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, a nonprofit that tracks eviction filings in a handful of major counties. from the eviction files. Mr Baker said corporate landlords have filed at least 75,000 evictions in the half-dozen major counties the company is tracking since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention implemented a nationwide eviction moratorium in September.

The moratorium is credited with roughly halving the number of eviction lawsuits filed by homeowners, according to the Eviction Lab at Princeton University.

But the effects have been mixed: State and local courts were divided over the details of the moratorium, and some rulings prohibited landlords from filing eviction for non-payment of rent and only evict such tenants. There are other courts permissible evictions for violations Rules and regulations of a residential complex.

With the moratorium ending this week, housing advocates estimate that nearly 11 million adult tenants are vulnerable to eviction as they have been paying their rent back. almost a half a million people Only New York City lags behind, according to analysis of census data by the National Equity Atlas, a research group affiliated with the University of Southern California.

Housing advocates fear there will be an increase in eviction applications once the moratorium expires. Some are concerned about how slow the federal government has been in paying roughly $45 billion in federal rent assistance. A Just over $1.5 billion It’s been paid out nationwide, the Treasury Department said last week.

Emily A. Benfer, a professor specializing in health and housing law at Wake Forest University, said in an interview that aid has emerged gradually, in part because many local governments have had to create rent assistance programs from the ground up. The application process can be cumbersome due to language and technology barriers, he added.

Diane Yentel, chair of the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, told the subcommittee that Congress should consider extending the moratorium to allow more time to pay the emergency rent money. He said some states allocate less than 5 percent of the money they receive from the federal government.

Republicans in the subcommittee have criticized the CDC moratorium, calling it an unconstitutional usurpation of power that brings financial difficulties to homeowners. Joel Griffith, a researcher at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy group, said the moratorium “eroded private property rights” and interfered with local courts’ ability to enforce local housing laws.

The committee asked corporate hosts to respond to Mr Clyburn’s letter by 3 August.


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