The nation’s largest corporate landlords received about $320 million in federal COVID-19 relief subsidies, but still filed thousands of evictions — even during the CDC moratorium.
After months of research into eviction data and COVID-19 subsidies, Jobs With Justice and the Private Equity Stakeholder Project released a report detailing the impact government subsidies had on deepening the housing crisis.
“According to our research, the $320 million in federal COVID-19 subsidies that corporate landlords received could have paid for nine months’ worth of rent for over 24,000 families during the pandemic,” said Jobs With Justice Senior Equitable Development Specialist, and co-author of the report, Scott Klinger. “But instead of helping their struggling tenants, corporate landlords used this federal money to pay the salaries of workers who continued to file evictions, deepening the very real fears of tenants losing their homes.”
NBC News, Jan 19, 2021: “Will the Biden administration be able to stop evictions of tenants hurt by Covid?”
Corporate landlords are, on average, much more likely to evict than mom and pop landlords. And despite years of research backing up this trend, Congress still decided to put their chips in with corporate landlords — even during a pandemic when they were asking citizens to “stay home and stay safe.” This resulted in an abject public health policy failure that caused thousands of unnecessary COVID-19 cases.
“Some of the largest and wealthiest property owners in the world are responsible for tens of thousands of the eviction filings we’ve seen in just a handful of states during the COVID-19 Pandemic,” added Pilar Sorensen, who leads the Private Equity Stakeholder Project’s work on housing. “Studies show that evictions have exacerbated the spread of COVID-19, meaning these large landlords evictions threaten the health of their residents and the broader public. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adopted, and Congress recently extended, a moratorium on residential evictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Corporate landlords, especially those that have received millions of dollars in bailouts and subsidies, should halt evictions through the end of the pandemic.”
“Giving public money to corporate landlords who turn around and evict people in the middle of a pandemic, rather than directly aiding tenants, undermines all the public health goals that the federal government claimed to be pursuing,” said Jobs With Justice Organizer Mina Itabashi. “We now know that evictions were linked to 400,000 unnecessary COVID-19 cases and 11,000 deaths. Taxpayer dollars should not be used to subsidize evictions by corporate landlords, who have worsened the pandemic. Instead, public dollars should be used to support communities and address the vast economic inequality that has been exposed and exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. ”
Along with this report, Jobs With Justice is calling on the incoming Biden administration to institute an eviction moratorium — one that covers all aspects of the eviction process — for the full duration of the pandemic. Jobs With Justice also urges the new Congress to cancel rent and mortgages for those experiencing COVID related hardships, to ensure that communities are not emerging from the pandemic with debt and fears of mass eviction.