On Wednesday, Sept. 2, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a nationwide ban on evictions that would keep tenants who lost jobs or income amid the pandemic in their homes through the end of the year, to prevent COVID-19 spread due to large-scale displacement.
The CDC's announcement comes as a relief for many Bexar County tenants, even if only temporarily. Local and federal evictions moratoriums had expired at the end of July, putting those experiencing virus-related financial losses at risk of being kicked out for non-payment.
The new federal order applies to renters who will make no more than $99,000 this year — or less than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return. Less than 9% of Bexar County families who rent make more than $100,000 a year, and even fewer area renters — about 2.7% — make more than $150,000.
Housing vulnerability isn't a new phenomenon in Bexar County and as of April, more than 14,000 Bexar County families had received financial assistance due to the pandemic. With historically high unemployment, less emergency housing funds available and no clear end to the COVID-19 financial fallout, renters have much cause for concern.
Will the CDC's eviction ban face legal challenges? What happens when it expires? Will tenants be responsible for back pay? Is the moratorium only delaying the inevitable wave of evictions or will it have a measurable public health impact?
How are property owners and landlords financially affected by COVID-19 and eviction bans? Does it have to be a tenants-versus-landlords issue or does the system allow for compromise?
What systemic issues lead to housing insecurity and how have existing inequities been exacerbated by COVID-19? What long-term fixes are needed to make housing more efficient and equitable?
- Alieza Durana, narrative change liaison with the Eviction Lab at Princeton University
- Lisa Alexander, law professor and co-director of the Program in Real Estate and Community Development Law at the Texas A&M School of Law
- Marina Starleaf Riker, investigative reporter for the San Antonio Express-News
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*This interview was recorded on on Thursday, September 3.