The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has taken the right move to protect people from evictions during the coronavirus pandemic. They are right, throwing thousands of whole families into the streets or forcing them into shelters is a sure-fire way to spread COVID-19, which will benefit no one right about now.
The new rule comes none too soon and provides protections until Dec. 31 for people who make less than $99,000 and are facing economic hardship due to the coronavirus.
This is the compassionate thing to do, considering millions of people have contracted the coronavirus, lost loved ones to the virus, suffered furloughs or have completely lost paychecks in this pandemic.
And that includes landlords.
People who own property and rent it out are among the millions worried about how they will physically and economically survive this pandemic. Just because someone owns a second or third or even fourth piece of property doesn’t mean they don’t have a slew of mortgages to pay each month to keep them.
What happens when the landlord loses her job, tenants aren’t paying rent, and she can’t pay the mortgage on the rental property? If the landlord loses the property, the tenant inevitably loses his home. No one wins.
The CARES Act tried to address this problem, providing grants to help low and moderate-income renters, with the money going directly landlords for rent. That program is slated to end Sept. 30. But even the CARES Act didn’t help enough. This economic shutdown has impacted people of all incomes who have been unable to meet basic expenses of food, transportation and shelter.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency has offered mortgage forbearance to property owners on condition they don’t evict tenants unable to pay rent. And that forbearance must continue through the end of the year or millions of property owners will be in crisis mode.
In past months, landlords could apply for a line of credit from their banks or for a Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Loan. That helped forestall catastrophe. But all of this begs the question, what happens when the loans have to be repaid?
Landlords, just as their tenants, are wondering how they will cope with the thousands of dollars in unpaid bills that will come due come December. Many fear their tenants won’t ever be able to catch up on back rent, not to mention late charges that could be added.
Many fear we are facing yet another economic nightmare when the deferrals stop, there’s still no income, and everyone starts demanding to be paid.
So, we agree, the moratorium on evictions is good and necessary, but the federal government has only dealt with one side of the problem. And that is a grave mistake.
Once again in this coronavirus crisis, Washington has passed the buck to states with scant resources to throw millions to ward off a looming disaster.
We urge state and federal lawmakers to think through the economic problems that the coronavirus has created and work together to come up with a solid plan to address them.
December will come all too soon when the stop-gap measures stop. And without a clear solution to the landlord-tenant crisis, voters may decide to show their anger in November.
An editorial from the Harrisburg Patriot News/Pennlive.com, Pennsylvania.