The Washington Post
The court’s cruel decision
In the Aug. 27 front-page article “High court ends CDC’S eviction ban,” the National Association of Realtors defended the Supreme Court decision overturning the eviction moratorium because “it brings to an end an unlawful policy that places financial hardship solely on the shoulders of mom-and-pop housing providers, who provide nearly half of all rental housing in America.” This claim is disingenuous.
As one of the “mom-and-pop” landlords on whose shoulders the eviction moratorium has ostensibly been borne, I am aghast at the court’s decision. Removing the protection from eviction for renters who have fallen behind on their rent means an estimated 3.6 million households face eviction in the coming months. They are significantly more likely to be Black, Indigenous, Latinx or other people of color, groups historically excluded from homeownership and wealth accumulation opportunities, and who face more severe health and economic impacts from the coronavirus.
The Census Bureau’s 2015 Rental Housing Finance Survey reports that individual investors, including me, own 48 percent of rental housing units, in line with the National Association of Realtors’ claim. Institutional investors — hedge funds, real estate investment trusts, venture capitalists — own a majority share and are far more likely to file eviction notices than small landlords.
In essence, the court’s decision jeopardizes the physical safety, dignity and financial security of already vulnerable renters to boost returns for primarily corporate investors. Congress’s inaction to continue the eviction moratorium during this unprecedented public health emergency, particularly in the face of the rising delta variant, is something about which no American should be proud.
Alan Finkelstein, Pittsburgh