For the last year, the pandemic has sent a series of jolts through the national economy’s central nervous system. An estimated 10.7 million are out of work. More than 50 million are expected to struggle to put food on the table. And an estimated 40 million Americans, (Estimated 50,000 in Forsyth County ) could have faced eviction by 2020′s close if it weren’t for the moratorium placed on evictions by the CDC .
With coronavirus cases still looming and new variants still an issue, the moratorium is currently in place until June 2021, leaving more and more small landlords in a difficult spot. Typically defined as owners with less than 20 units, small landlords are an important source of affordable housing in a city, but typically don’t have the political clout of large developers or public sympathy.
The situation at hand is difficult for all involved. Landlords and renters continue facing challenges.
Landlords are being asked to house nonpaying renters while still paying their own bills, including mortgages, utilities, and taxes. Tenant and landlord organizations alike argue that the moratorium would work better if it were paired with money for rent-assistance programs, which would allow everyone to pay the bills.
Andrea Kurtz, Senior Director, Housing Strategies, United Way of Forsyth County, says “The enormity of the housing crisis we are facing cannot be underestimated. Our community has 1000s of households whose livelihood had been taken away from them because of the requirements to protect public health, landlords big and small are among those facing enormous economic challenges because of the pandemic. The housing ecosystem in our community relies on property managers to protect and maintain over 46% of the housing stock in our community. Without planning and coordination between the rent assistance programs which tenants are facing, and the economic impact on the business of managing rental housing, we run the risk of damaging our already limited and fragile supply of affordable housing. “
Cathy Robertson, REALTOR, GRI, ARM®, AHWD, CRMS notes, “Everyone I know from across the state of North Carolina who is involved with professional property management has the same goal, that is keeping tenants in their home and making them whole. We strongly believe in and are advocating for Federal rental relief that accomplishes this goal. The way HOPE funds were administered previously did not accomplish this goal as effectively as we had hoped, therefore leaving many tenants vulnerable. More needs to be done to keep tenants off the streets. For example, we see many tenants that do not have the wherewithal to apply for assistance on their own. The simple solution to this is to allow landlords and property managers to apply on the tenant’s behalf. Another barrier we see are restrictions on how the funds once received are applied; current and future are allowed but no assistance for rent already in arrears. Tenants cannot be made whole if all the rent due is not being covered. Again, everyone’s goal is to keep the tenants housed today and into the future until the economy is more stable. Making everyone whole is the only real and sustainable solution.”
A recent New York Times article “Pandemic’s Toll on Housing: Falling Behind, Doubling Up” explores this complicated and intertwined situation. Eviction moratoriums don’t keep arrears from piling up, and aid to renters may not reach the most vulnerable.” ( https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/06/business/economy/housing-insecurity.html?smid=url-share)
Kurtz adds, “We at United Way of Forsyth County are committed to the work of ending chronic homelessness and improving the system of care for all people experiencing a housing crisis. The pandemic has certainly added an entire new level of complexity and we know that this is a marathon not a race”.