High rents continued into 2022 at the fastest pace in decades, making housing costlier than ever. Between March 2021 and March 2022, the average rent rose 17 percent, according to ApartmentList.com. This has led to a rise in eviction filings, with Blacks more likely to be evicted than Whites.
Hazel Simmons (whose real name was changed at the request of the interviewee), a single mom of three living in Washington, D.C., said she grew concerned when the moratorium against evictions ended last summer. Friends and family helped her stay housed, but that assistance ran out.
“I’m doing the best I can,” she told The Final Call. “I just got a notice that my rent was rising, but my income hasn’t. I’ve applied to every program I can find. Some I qualify for, and some I don’t. I’m afraid of getting evicted. I heard stories from friends around the country whose rent rose so high they were evicted. This is a problem with an unhappy ending.”
In the nation’s capital, according to a report by Rent.com, rents soared over the past year. The average cost of renting a studio apartment rose by 23 percent since this time last year with the average price around $1,924. One, two and three bedrooms are renting between $2,400 to $3,075 a month on average.
Protections against evictions expired last summer when the Supreme Court ruled that President Joe Biden did not have the authority to extend the federal eviction moratorium. The court said that extension was outside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s powers. Princeton University’s Eviction Lab estimated that there were at least 1.55 million fewer eviction filings than average during the moratorium period. However, there was a 20 percent increase in eviction filings when it was lifted.
Black renters, particularly Black women, are nearly twice as likely to be evicted as White renters, according to the Eviction Lab. This disparity existed pre-Covid and has continued since Covid.
New York’s eviction moratorium ended in January. Before the pandemic, landlords in New York City filed more evictions than any other major American city, according to the Eviction Lab. Nearly 140,000 evictions cases were filed in 2019.
New York court documents recorded about 18,000 eviction cases filed since the start of this year. That number is far below the more than 43,000 filed in the first two months of 2020, before the city’s moratorium began.
Tenant advocates contend that while those numbers seem low, the new filings were added to a backlog of more than 200,000 cases stayed throughout the pandemic. To help tenants, New York enacted “Right to Counsel” laws, which guarantee legal representation for those facing eviction. However, tenant lawyers are reporting being overwhelmed by their caseloads.
“Any concerns about capacity that have been raised to OCJ (Office of Civil Justice) or the court have been ignored because they look at the number of new filings rather than the backlog of cases providers are dealing with,” Amanda O’Keefe, a tenant attorney with Mobilization for Justice, told the media.
Court documents show that New York courts refused in March to alter their schedule due to the rising number of eviction cases to ensure tenants have proper counsel. The court’s ruling satisfied many property owners, some who have waited nearly two years to collect rent.
The start of 2022 saw the “biggest rent increase since before the pandemic began,” roommate search platform SpareRoom wrote in a recent report. “Every NYC borough saw a jump in rents over the last year, with Manhattan leading the way with increases of 15 percent, followed by Brooklyn up 13 percent.”