Saturday, August 8, 2020

Moving Day Blues

What is working? Well some Americans are back to work and already the same factors that fell into place post 2008 recession are revived - jobs with less wages and less security. The myth that those currently unemployed are somehow skill deficient will also appear as if the world went ahead and all the jobs and professions with the same skills that were frozen in place are now obsolete.  This will be the excuse that enables companies to not rehire or to hire employees at lesser wages and of course the whole benefit thing went right into the crapper with Covid, so say bye to those.

With the already tenuous hold many had on homes, particularly renters we are going to either see massive evictions and in turn homelessness or more bankruptcy and foreclosures by owners as they attempt to hit reset on their own properties  This in turn will be largely due to what we can expect as increased property taxes as municipalities look to seek to a return to some revenues also lost during the pandemic.   Nothing is looking good nor is America going to be great again for a long long time. Most likely not in the remainder of my lifetime.

Now if you are rich, say Warren Buffet, you are already finding a nice cushion on which to rest one's head. The same goes for health care insurers and even some hospital chains that are finding record profits during this time of Covid.  Undoubtedly Bill Gates who has many a shre in a Biotech and Big Pharma will be counting his laurels, his pennies and his loose change to throw at the beggars that align Mercer Street near his non profit headquarters in Seattle. Here is your Giving Pledge assholes!

The hardest hit will be of course those faces of color and particularly Immigrants and those here who are undocumented and living in densely occupied residences. These are the people who cannot come forward and in turn have few resources to protect them from their already tenuous hold on stability. As for many, the odd cohort of those deigned Middle Class, they too will find themselves struggling with the demands placed upon them with schooling at home, attempting to continue to work at home with the likelihood of further lockdowns looming on the horizon will add additional stress to an already stressful situation.

And this trickle down affect is again with regards to revenues and needed taxes to cities who are in the process of trying to add services, address the needs of public health and public education in which to improve not only because of Covid but in response to the demands of the recent Civil Rights issues that came out of the BLM protests. The true need to address inequality and injustice is founded and embedded in our larger institutions, not just the Police and Criminal Justice system.

As for the Crazy Dopey Grandpa's recent Executive Order on rental evictions and assistance, it means nothing without Congressional approval. So have at it Moscow Mitch and find the time to figure out what you need to do to look like you give a flying fuck and actually do work versus play politics all day.

I want to point out that irony on top of irony that both Trump and his SIL, Jared Kushner, are property owners. Kushner's company own several rental buildings in New York/New Jersey and I live in one. They have done nothing to reach out to us about the facility fees we have paid and cannot use, the inability to break leases without the current tenants finding new occupants. Rents that are sky high and many who are out of work or finding themselves in financial straits and many who have simply left their units unoccupied. There is a never ending struggle to get any communication from them other than endless emails telling us what we cannot do not what they can do for us. It is laughable to walk to a pool, have your temp taken and sit in a chair that cannot be moved. I have exhausted myself trying to think that is fun and knowing I have zero desire to go into a pool that is only periodically cleaned and Covid is the least of my issues with regards to that. Well so much for White Peoples Problems.

But I am lucky but this will not last. I am well aware that my occupation is on hold, that savings and investments are being depleted and I would love to move but that would mean also a bagful of cash to do as such thanks to endless fees and costs associated with this endeavor. Here we have move in fees, damages, first months, rent broker fees that are equivalent of one months rent, and of course moving costs that can strain the best of budgets. And I see or hear no movement by Governors to eliminate those as a way to expedite and enable folks to take on cheaper apartments, not default and break leases without penalty. This is where we are in America, the rich get richer and the poor get shit.





Millions of Evictions Are a Sharper Threat as Government Support Ends

Without more federal aid for workers, experts are expecting the largest disruption to the housing market since the Depression.


By Conor Dougherty
The New York Times
Aug. 7, 2020

For the 108 million people who live in a rental home or apartment, Aug. 1 was a grim milestone. It marked the first time rent was due after much of the nation’s economic response to the coronavirus had expired.

The lapse of expanded unemployment benefits and federal, state and local eviction moratoriums is forcing lawmakers to figure out how to extend those protections. It has also left experts resorting to natural disaster metaphors (“avalanche,” “tsunami”) to describe the scale of potential evictions.

Unlike the U.S. economy, which was enjoying the longest expansion on record, housing — specifically rental housing — was troubled before the virus hit, with problems going back decades. A little under four million evictions are filed each year, one in four tenant households spends about half its pretax income on rent, and each night some 200,000 people sleep in their cars, on streets or under bridges.

Those were the statistics in good times. Now, with unemployment above 10 percent and projected to stay there through at least next year, tens of millions of households could be at risk of eviction in the coming months. Even if only a fraction of those evictions actually take place, it would still be several times the current pace and the biggest disruption in rental housing in decades.

Whatever the final tally, it is increasingly clear that if the Great Recession was personified by empty subdivisions and foreclosed homeowners, the enduring symbol of coronavirus, with its disproportionate impact on hourly workers, is likely to be a laid-off tenant struggling to keep an overcrowded apartment.

“The United States is on the brink of an eviction crisis of unprecedented magnitude,” said Emily A. Benfer, a professor at Wake Forest University School of Law.

That is, of course, a projection — and so far, government efforts to hold back a wave of displacement have been effective. About two-thirds of the workers eligible for extended unemployment protections could make more than they did when they were employed, allowing tens of millions of tenants to shelter in place while paying their monthly bills.

Renters who didn’t receive unemployment pay were largely covered by the various eviction moratoriums that, while not relieving their debts, had at least granted them a reprieve. The federal moratorium alone, passed as part of the CARES Act in March, covered between 28.1 percent and 45.6 percent of rental units.

On Friday, after talks between the Trump administration and Democrats effectively stalled, President Trump threatened to bypass Congress to extend the moratorium.

The moratoriums were supposed to be emergency measures to give tenants some relief until the virus subsided and the economy returned to health.

Except that didn’t happen. The virus continues to surge around the country, and parents are unsure when schools will reopen. Each week more than a million laid-off employees continue to file for unemployment insurance, while temporary layoffs are becoming permanent job losses.

Landlords hold that the most extreme predictions of evictions are overblown. For starters, the limited data available suggests that most tenants have stayed current on their bills. Also, property owners, facing rising vacancies and falling rents, are increasingly working out rent cuts and extended payment plans.

Still, put all the numbers together, and it becomes clear that renters were struggling before the pandemic, they’ve been hit harder by the virus and job losses, and the rental market is likely to be more challenging even after the economy recovers.

In the wake of the pandemic, 43 states and Washington, D.C., enacted some kind of eviction moratorium, according to Ms. Benfer. On top of that were various local measures, along with the federal eviction moratorium, which covered subsidized housing and rental properties with loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

While these measures were of varying length and strength — and many, including the federal ban, had little to no enforcement mechanism — together the patchwork served to halt or slow evictions for a majority of renters. Only seven states — Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming — never issued a statewide stay on evictions, and even in those states, the federal rules should have protected at least a third of renter households.

Just as important as those protections were the federal unemployment and stimulus payments. After all, most renters do not have eviction problems if they stay current on their bills, and with help from the $1,200 stimulus payments and $600 in extended unemployment that came with the CARES Act, many of them have.

That help is ending, and renters are slipping off the cliff.

Benjamin Schenk, a San Diego landlord who operates 30 units in two buildings, is one of the many property owners who have been surprised by the high number of tenants paying their rent in the early months of the pandemic. In March he was talking with his lenders about how he might restructure his loans in anticipation of nonpayments, only to make it to August with payment rates close to 100 percent, which he attributes to the CARES Act.

But people are now falling behind. Though it will take until mid-month to get a true sense of how bad August will be, several tenants who lost their jobs stopped paying rent in the first few days. “The aid that folks are relying on has dried up and not a lot of places are hiring,” Mr. Schenk said.

While there’s no comprehensive data on rent payments, a weekly tracker from the National Multifamily Housing Council that covers about 11 million units has started slipping. In the Census Bureau’s most recent Pulse Survey, for the week of July 16 to 21, just under one in five renters said they were unable to pay July’s rent on time, while one in three were unsure they could make August payments.

The threat to small landlords is also a threat to tenants. About 40 percent of the nation’s 48.2 million rental units are owned by “mom-and-pop” operators who tend to have a limited financial cushion. Since much of the nation's affordable housing consists of small apartment buildings and single-family homes if these smaller landlords go under many of their units could be “lost.” Some would become owner-occupied housing. Others will get acquired by larger investors who plan renovations and rent increases — compounding a longstanding affordable housing shortage.

Evictions have piled up and are now resuming.

Evictions, meted out by local courts, are difficult to tally nationwide. For now, new filings are depressed compared with historical averages, according to a survey of a dozen cities by Princeton University’s Eviction Lab. But they have resumed around the country, and are likely to grow.

There is a difference between an eviction filing, which is the start of a legal process, and an actual eviction, in which a tenant is removed. According to Eviction Lab, there were 3.7 million such filings in 2016, about one million of which led to an eviction — a figure that undercounts displacement.

Many tenants leave after a threat of eviction or the first sign of a filing. Others leave after a landlord turns off utilities or changes the locks. Even for tenants who are never taken from their home by a sheriff, behind every filing is severe stress and tattered credit that makes it harder to find a new place. Beyond that is the uncountable number of families whose rent was raised beyond their means and who left before missing a payment.

So even if there are only a million formal evictions a year, the number of people who are displaced is probably several times that, and likely to grow.

While homelessness would almost certainly increase with a spike in evictions, this doesn’t necessarily mean shelters will fill up or encampments will pop up on every street. Tenants, in particular, families, often exhaust every available option — living in weekly hotels and illegal garages, staying with friends or piling in with multiple roommates — before they end up in the shelter system or the streets.

Steve Noggle, 43, was evicted from his apartment in Annville, Pa., this week. He received just five weeks of extended unemployment benefits even though he lost his restaurant job four months ago. He has been sleeping on his sister’s couch since Monday. “I don’t like having to be here, it’s a burden on everybody, especially because I can’t contribute anything financially,” he said. “I’m just hoping I can get a job as soon as possible.”

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