A federal ban on evictions expires at the end of the year, and it’s sparking fears of a housing crisis that could disproportionately send people of color out of their homes.
“Communities of color are the hardest hit by the eviction crisis, representing 80 percent of the vulnerable,” according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
In Atlanta, the United Way says 95% of families it helps fight eviction are Black.
And Black and Latino families consistently report low confidence in the ability to pay rent during the pandemic, advocates say.
Jasmine Cruz of Atlanta says she’s living on borrowed time, like so many others behind on their rent.
The single mother, 25, owes two months of rent and was recently issued a notice demanding that she pay.
“It’s not easy,” she says. “I’ve been struggling.”
‘Kids don’t know how to get over that’
With nowhere else to go for help, Cruz visited the Thrive Resource Center, which is operated out of a makeshift office in an apartment building. There she met Monica Delancy, who helps those at risk of being evicted.
“We don’t want you to get to that point,” Delancy told her. “If you have to move, we want you to move with dignity. We want you to move, and pack your things up, and we’ll find you a place. But we don’t want you to be forced out, ‘cause kids don’t know how to get over that. Adults can. Kids don’t know how to.”
Delancy says she was evicted this time last year – “on a cold day like this, with a Christmas tree.”
Garnell Hodge is also facing eviction. Hodge lost her job in the service industry because of the pandemic and worries about herself and her 9-year-old granddaughter after an eviction notice came.
“I also don’t have anywhere to go because places are so high and I don’t have much income,” she said.
Protip Biswas of United Way says the agency is overrun with applications for help.
“Not only can we not help, the funding expires the end of December,” he says. “That is the biggest plea we have – if there’s some way to extend it so we can keep helping families.”
Millions are behind in rent or mortgage payments
According to the US Census Household Pulse Survey, by the end of October, 9.9 million Americans were not up-to-date on their rent or mortgage payments and had little to no confidence that their household could pay next month’s rent or mortgage on time.
In an unprecedented move, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an order that bans evictions between September 4 and December 31, estimating up to 40 million people could lose their homes if it were not in place.
But thousands of eviction actions have been filed, according to data compiled by the Private Equity Stakeholders Project.
CNN’s Lauren Lee contributed to this report.