SAN DIEGO — As the Coronavirus pandemic persists with no end in sight, it is taking a crushing economic toll on a large number of Americans struggling to keep a roof over their heads.
A new study by Apartment List finds nearly a third of families nationwide could not afford to fully pay their rent or mortgage this month. While in June, 30% of respondents failed to make their full housing payment, 31% were unable to do so in May.
"Still, there's a huge number of people out there struggling to make their housing payment," said Rob Warnock, research analyst for Apartment List.
The study also found that among homeowners, 26% are concerned about foreclosure, while among renters nationwide, 37% are at least "somewhat concerned" about eviction in the next half-year.
Currently, a moratorium on evictions statewide remains in effect. On Wednesday, California's Judicial Council had been considering a move to lift that moratorium in August, instead of waiting until 90 days after Governor Gavin Newsom's state-of-emergency order is lifted.
While the council ultimately decided to delay making a decision, tenants rights groups and legal experts are still watching the case closely. They say that persons of color would be disproportionately impacted.
"If we are going to allow the courts to re-open and evictions to start up again, the people who are going to be most harmed are the very people who are out in the streets right now asking for greater equality in our society," said Matt Warren, staff attorney for the Western Center on Law & Poverty.
"It is a truly terrifying thought that evictions could start taking place a lot sooner than anticipated," said Rafael Bautista of San Diego Tenants United, which has led local protests against apartment owners who are not working with tenants struggling to make their rent.
"About 10 to 15% of landlords are not trying to work with tenants," Bautista said. "Trying to pressure them, to intimidate them into paying with money they are trying to survive on."
Bautista, who is calling for a rent strike, or cancellation of rent, is also concerned that once the moratorium is eventually lifted, more families will have nowhere to turn but the streets.
"If there is a massive wave of evictions taking place, then there is going to be a spike in homelessness," he told News 8.
For a look at the complete study by Apartment List, click here.