Moratorium ending puts 8 million American families at risk of foreclosure or eviction

Even as the nation rebounds from the coronavirus pandemic, more than 2 million homeowners are behind on their mortgages and risk being forced out of their homes in a matter of weeks, a new Harvard University housing report warns.

As the US economy recovers, the inequalities amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic remain front and center and most of the homeowners at risk of being forced out of their homes are either low-income or families of color

Most of the homeowners at risk of foreclosure are either low-income or families of color, said researchers who published the 2021 State of the Nation’s Housing report.

Congress has dedicated $10 billion to help homeowners get caught up on payments, but it’s unclear if that funding will make it to families before mortgage companies begin sending out foreclosure notices, researchers say.

Separately, millions more renters are “on the brink of eviction,” the Harvard researchers found. Census data show that 6 million households are still behind on rent and could face eviction at the end of June, when federal eviction protections expire.

The housing crisis, the study found, risks widening the gap between Black, Latino and white households, as well as putting homeownership out of the reach of lower-income Americans.

The report was released on the same day as Census Bureau’s biweekly Household Pulse Survey came out. It showed that nearly 4.2 million people nationwide report that it is likely or somewhat likely that they will be evicted or foreclosed upon in the next two months.

Many of those tenants are waiting to see what becomes of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eviction moratorium, which is set expire June 30.

Housing advocates are pressuring President Joe Biden’s administration to extend it.

They argue extending it would give states the time to distribute more than $45 billion in rental assistance and protect vulnerable communities from COVID-19. The rental assistance has been slow to reach tenants.

More than 7 million homeowners took advantage of the foreclosure moratorium passed as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act last spring.

The provision was later extended by the Biden White House.

As of March 2021, most of those homeowners have started repaying lenders and some are even up to date with their lenders but that leaves about 2.1 million still behind on their mortgages, researchers said.

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