Evictions spike with inflation rising and little help left for tenants

Some areas are seeing 40 percent rent increases over pre-pandemic levels


Inflation, rent hikes and dwindling federal pandemic-era assistance led to a sharp rise in eviction filings in August and September, NBC News reported.

And the problem is only expected to increase in the coming months, with the moratorium lifted and just $7 billion of emergency rent assistance still available.

“From here on out, it’s going to be a very, very difficult time,” Tim Thomas, research director at the Urban Displacement Project at the University of California, Berkeley, told NBC.

Evictions — which had remained low the past two years due to a moratorium and the availability of nearly $50 billion in federal rental assistance — were above their historical averages in about half of the 1,050 counties tracked by Legal Services Corp.

About 8 million people said they were at least one month behind on their rent, and another 3 million people said it was at least somewhat likely that they’d be evicted in the coming months, according to a census survey.

Nearly 4.5 million survey respondents also said that their monthly rent had increased between $250 and $500 in the past year, and 2.5 million said their rent had increased more than $500.

Cities such as Phoenix and Oklahoma City have been particularly hard hit, with rents jumping at least 24 percent over the past year.

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Evictions have followed suit. For example, in Oklahoma County, which includes Oklahoma City, evictions have increased 40 percent over pre-pandemic levels.

“With inflation and the massive increases in rental prices that we’ve seen over the last few years, it’s much worse for low-income renters than it was before the pandemic when we were already in an affordable housing crisis,” Daniel Grubbs-Donovan, a researcher at the Eviction Lab at Princeton University, told NBC News.

The Biden administration has responded by urging states and municipalities to use remaining American Rescue Plan Act funds to help struggling renters.

The jump in rent coincides with overall pessimism concerning the economy, with a majority of Americans saying the country was headed for a recession in the next year.

Rent increases have appeared to have slowed, however, with some areas of the country reporting slight decreases.

In addition, inflation appears to have tempered, with the Department of Labor reporting earlier this week that the consumer price index was up 7.7 percent from the prior year, the lowest increase since February.

— Ted Glanzer