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As Moratorium Ends, Evictions Surge

Activists fear millions could be out on the street as delta variant takes hold
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 3, 2021 2:34 AM CDT
Eviction Courts Roar Back to Life as Moratorium Ends
Tiara Burton stands outside a courthouse in Virginia Beach, Va., on Monday Aug. 2, 2021, two days after a federal moratorium on evictions expired.   (AP Photo/Ben Finley)

(Newser) – Gabe Imondi, a 74-year-old landlord from Rhode Island, had come to court hoping to get his apartment back. He was tired of waiting for federal rental assistance and wondered aloud “what they’re doing with that money?" Hours later, Luis Vertentes, in a different case, was told by a judge he had three weeks to clear out of his one-bedroom apartment in nearby East Providence. The 43-year-old landscaper said he was four months behind on rent after being hospitalized for a time. “I’m going to be homeless, all because of this pandemic,” Vertentes said. “I feel helpless, like I can’t do anything even though I work and I got a full-time job.” Scenes like this played out from North Carolina to Virginia to Ohio and beyond Monday as the eviction system, which saw a dramatic drop in cases before a federal moratorium expired over the weekend, rumbled back into action. Activists fear millions will be tossed onto the streets as the delta variant of the coronavirus surges, the AP reports.

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The Biden administration allowed the federal moratorium to expire over the weekend and Congress was unable to extend it. Historic amounts of rental assistance allocated by Congress had been expected to avert a crisis. But the distribution has been painfully slow: Only about $3 billion of the first tranche of $25 billion had been distributed through June by states and localities. A second amount of $21.5 billion will go to the states. For some tenants, getting assistance has proven impossible. After her landlord refused federal assistance to cover $5,000 in back rent, Antoinette Eleby, 42, of Miami, expects an eviction order within two to three weeks. She is sending her five children to live with her mother in another county. The White House is calling on state and local governments to disburse the federal aid money and implement eviction moratoriums covering the rest of the summer, NPR reports.

(Read more eviction stories.)

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