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Corporate Landlords Continue to Evict in Georgia and Texas, Even with Billions Remaining in Federal Relief Funds for Renters

In January, Congress appropriated over $46 billion in direct financial assistance to support renters. Nevertheless, corporate landlords continued with eviction filings, filing more than 79,000 eviction actions since the start of the year. $30 billion of the funds appropriated were still available at the end of September; however, corporate landlords have increased eviction filings in many cities and states.

According to the Augusta Chronicle, the state of Georgia received $963.2 million in ERA funds through two Congressional appropriations, one in December 2020 and the other in March 2021. The state Department of Community Affairs (DCA) received the bulk of the funding, $552.3 million. The remainder of the dollars were distributed to Atlanta and Atlanta-metro area counties, as well as Augusta-Richmond and Chatham counties, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The Augusta Chronicle, October 5, 2021: Nearly 300,000 Georgians are behind on rent but state lagging to help with federal aid funds

The DCA has only disbursed seven percent of available funds, the Chronicle reported, having assisted 6,742 households with $32.9 million as of the end of August 2021, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

By the end of July 2021, Chatham County had distributed $1.6 million, less than 20%, of its $8.7 million allocation. There were more than 500 COVID-related eviction hearings waiting to be heard after the July 31 moratorium on evictions ended. Citing data from PESP, the Augusta Chronicle reported that since the beginning of the pandemic, corporate landlords (not including mom-and-pop operations) have filed 2,974 evictions in Chatham County.

In at least 20 counties where PESP has tracked eviction filings, corporate landlords filed more evictions in September than August. As moratoriums have ended, many corporate landlords have become more aggressive in their eviction efforts, filing at least 14,601 evictions in September alone – a 21% increase over the previous month.

In Georgia PESP found that corporate landlords filed at least 6,546 eviction actions in Fulton, Gwinnett, DeKalb, Clayton, and Chatham counties in September 2021 alone. Throughout these counties, corporate landlords were responsible for more than 76% of all evictions filed in September.

Meanwhile in Texas, Spectrum News 1 reported that because landlords have yet to face significant fines or penalties for violating the order, many have chosen to take their chances and proceed with eviction. As of Aug. 7, there have been 43,216 evictions filed in the Dallas-Fort Worth area since the start of the pandemic, according to Eviction Lab, and 35,486 filed in Harris County.

Spectrum News 1, September 29, 2021: Federal eviction moratorium is set to expire, but little will change in Texas

PESP found that in Texas, corporate landlords filed at least 2,822 eviction actions in September in Harris (Houston), Tarrant (Fort Worth), and Travis (Austin) counties combined – a 25% increase over last month. In both Harris and Tarrant counties, corporate landlords were responsible for more than half of all September filings.

As Spectrum News reported, many corporate landlords are filing for eviction even as they rake in profits. Based in Dallas, Invitation Homes is the nation’s largest landlord of single-family homes. Since Sept. 2020, the company has filed to evict more than 800 households, including at least 46 in Texas, according to Spectrum News, noting that on an earnings call in February, CEO Dallas Tanner said the company had maintained rent collections around 97% of its historical rate throughout the pandemic. “COVID appears to have been beneficial for demand,” he said. In 2020, the company’s profits grew by 35%, to $196 million, Spectrum News reported.

Citing data collected by PESP, Spectrum News described Invitation Homes as one of the “more aggressive” companies. Between Sept. 4, 2020 — when the CDC order went into effect — and June 30, 2021, corporate landlords have filed to evict 75,000 households in six states, with nearly 18,500 of the evictions filed in Harris and Tarrant counties alone.

PESP found that Invitation Homes has filed at least 101 eviction actions in September. Invitation homes has filed 824 eviction actions since the start of this year and over 1,300 evictions since the pandemic started last March.

Spectrum News also reported how in late July, Rep. James Clyburn announced at a hearing in which PESP testified that the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis would investigate four corporate landlords — Invitation Homes, Pretium Partners, Ventron Management, and The Siegel Group — for allegedly evicting residents in violation of the CDC moratorium.

Since the start of the pandemic, private equity firms and other corporate landlords have filed to evict more than 124,000 families in counties throughout Georgia, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Tennessee, and Nevada. These eviction actions took place despite the existence of multiple national programs intended to halt evictions and assist indebted renters.

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