For many of us, the December holidays are a time to visit and celebrate with family and friends in our homes. But for far too many Americans don’t have a home of their own or worry that they will lose their homes.
Each year, it is estimated that 2.7 million households face evictions in the United States. And few states have laws that provide a respite from evictions during the cold winter months and over the holiday season. As we have reported the crisis in NJ continues at record levels.
NPR reports, “Christine Thompson is eager to leave the two-bedroom apartment she rents in a shabby house on the north side of Milwaukee. There are so many things wrong with the place.
“In the bathroom, I have to turn my shower on in order for the light to come on. And when I turn the shower off, the light goes off,” she says.
The apartment also has mice, cockroaches, and so many bedbugs that she and her sons – ages 3 and 7 – sleep on an air mattress on the dining room floor, where’s there’s no carpet. She also has no oven or stove, and water leaking from the ceiling.”
Because Thompson has a potential eviction on her rental history record, she finds that most landlords will not rent to her. Other landlords, to consider renting to her, tell her that they will require two months’ rent and security deposit prior to signing a lease.
Tenants like Thompson have few options once facing an eviction. Those options include moving in and doubling up in the homes and friends and family, finding less expensive apartments or worst yet – homelessness.
“Thompson is worried she’ll be evicted and has been calling the local homeless shelters just in case she doesn’t find another apartment.
‘And they’ll tell me to call back. They don’t have any openings right now,’ she says. ‘They’re all full. And I understand because it’s the wintertime and a lot of homeless people are going to the shelters.'”
The news story also gives the perspective of landlords who face a loss of income if a moratorium is placed on evictions.
A solution to the problem is creating additional safe and quality affordable housing.
If every low-income household in the United States had access to an apartment with rent that they can afford, most households would not be in a situation where they could not afford rent and possibly face eviction.
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
Evicted Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond tells the story of eight families on the edge in the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee.