“Can’t pay the rent, It’s only going to get worse”

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/08/business/economy/coronavirus-rent.html/

“And there is Terra Thomas, a florist in Oakland, Calif., who could pay her April rent with savings if she wanted but has decided to withhold the $833 she pays for her studio. With her usually busy wedding season shaping up to be grim, she’d rather conserve her money than pay bills now.”

“This could last a long time and be really, really serious, so I don’t want to be asking myself in a few months, ‘Why did I give away my last few paychecks to rent?’” she said. “I need to know that I can eat and pay for health care.”

Tenants’ rights organizers see the pandemic as a galvanizing force.

“Cities and states have tried to address housing troubles by passing eviction moratoriums, which should prevent an immediate rise in homelessness but doesn’t resolve what happens in three or four months when tenants who have had little or no income are billed for months of back rent.”

“Eventually the moratoriums will be lifted, and we don’t want to create an environment where low-income renters fall off a financial cliff and we have a rash of evictions,” said Diane Yentel, chief executive of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, an advocacy group in Washington.”

“After lobbying for grants to homeless providers in the CARES Act, her group is pushing for $100 billion in direct subsidies to tenants. The National Multifamily Housing Council has called for similar aid. Ms. Yentel, in an interview, cited two objectives: to relieve tenants of rent burden, but also to support small landlords at risk of foreclosure.”

“…much of the aid to tenants is earmarked for those living in subsidized and public housing, and much of the mortgage forbearance will benefit landlords whose loans are backed by the government through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is little help to most moderate- and low-income tenants who live in market-rate developments, or small landlords whose loans are often held by private lenders and not backed by the federal government.”

“For several decades, the nation’s affordable-housing stock has fallen sharply, particularly “naturally occurring affordable housing” — run-down buildings that offer low rents without government subsidy. Since much of this housing is operated by smaller landlords, Ms. Yentel fears that without any aid to landlords, the buildings could go into default and be picked up by investors who will renovate them for higher-paying tenants after the crisis subsides.”

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