'Scarlet E': An Eviction in the US Can Become a Life Sentence

August 24, 2020

While President Donald Trump signed an executive order earlier this month instructing officials to find solutions for keeping tenants in their homes, it failed to extend a federal moratorium on evictions that expired in July.

Across the country, advocates warn that the US is poised for an unprecedented crisis. Landlords in 17 cities have already filed for 36,581 evictions during the pandemic. That's expected to surge as some states' eviction moratoria expire as soon as the end of this month, according to a tracker created by Princeton University's Eviction Lab.

As COVID-19 relief funds dwindle, unemployment remains high and some jobs may never return. And though tenants are already struggling to pay their rent during the pandemic, the crisis has been brewing for much longer, said Alieza Durana, a media strategist with the Eviction Lab.

"Nearly three decades of rising rents and wage stagnation, coupled with centuries of systematic discrimination within our housing market and policies, have given rise to a housing crisis that predates COVID-19," Durana told Al Jazeera. "In 2016, we saw 3.7 million eviction filings in our data, or seven eviction filings per minute, when unemployment was under five percent.

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