Progressives and housing activists have urgently warned of a “eviction tsunami” if states and the federal government do not continue to force landlords to let tenants use their property for free during the pandemic. Representative Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., Protested on the steps of the Capitol and predicted a “national tent city” with no moratorium on evictions.
But six weeks after the Supreme Court allowed the CDC’s ban on expulsion to be suspended by a lower court, the tidal wave remains far away. “There does not appear to be any concrete evidence,” the Washington Post wrote last month, “that the expected wave of expulsions has materialized.”
This gives credence to homeowners’ arguments that government virus decrees have forced them to bear an undue burden.
Evictions rose by around 9% nationwide in September after the High Court action. But they remain below historical levels, according to the Princeton University foreclosure lab, which tracks numbers in six states and 31 cities, including Las Vegas.
“It increases, but it does not increase by a ton …”, told Reason magazine Peter Hepburn, professor of sociology at Rutgers University and researcher at Eviction Lab. “We haven’t seen a return to normal, let alone a leap beyond normal in a giant wave of eviction cases.”
Clark County was a little outside the national standard. Evictions in June, July and August were slightly higher than usual this year, but have tended to decrease in those three months, reports the Eviction Lab. Figures for September are not yet available, but suffice it to say that there has not been a massive “tsunami” of evictions.
Observers offer a variety of potential explanations, including the fact that many states and local jurisdictions have increased rent relief payments. But billions remain unspent – federal officials say they might try to claw back some of that money – and there hasn’t been a surge in evictions in localities that have struggled to distribute it. ‘money.
Maybe there’s something else at work: Most owners aren’t evil ogres.
An analysis from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies found that “landlords were more likely to give tenants concessions, postpone maintenance, and reduce debt payments and other expenses during the pandemic.” In other words, many landlords were eager to work with tenants in real distress. This makes sense – evictions are expensive and time consuming.
“I guess if there had been no moratorium, evictions would have fallen again very sharply in the spring of last year, when the owners had very little chance of bringing in anyone else,” he said. told Reason Salim Furth of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. then rebounded to lower than normal levels.
Evictions could increase in the coming months. But this tsunami is more like a rolling white hat.