Callie Crossley: This is The Takeaway. I'm Callie Crossley, in for Tanzina Vega. The pandemic has highlighted our nation's worst disparities and inequities in wealth, health care, and of course, housing. According to the Aspen Institute, 30 to 40 million Americans could be facing eviction in the coming months. The latest stimulus bill has pushed back the end of the CDC’s moratorium on evictions, from December 31st, to January 31st. Staving off the next chapter in this American housing crisis, for just a little while longer.
When this next eviction wave does crash, Black women in this country will most likely be the hardest hit. According to data from the National Women's Law Center and the ACLU, Black women are twice as likely to be behind on their rent as white renters, and have historically faced evictions at twice the rate of white people in at least 17 states. Chabeli Carrazana is an economy reporter for The 19th, where she's been covering this eviction disparity. She joins me now. Chabeli, thanks for being here.
Chabeli Carrazana: Thanks for having me.
Callie: What factors have led to more Black women in this country historically, having higher rates of eviction?
Chabeli: This year, we've seen in many different ways, how Black women have been disproportionately affected by this pandemic. A lot of it are factors that were already in place when all of this started. I think you mentioned it a little bit, before 2020, Black women already faced evictions at really high rates. 70% of Black women were already the primary or only breadwinner in their families. They bear a lot of the economic weight in their families, in their households and in their communities. When we have a year with a pandemic recession, where women have been affected the most, women of color most of all, that situation becomes very precarious.
You have a year like 2020, when Black women hit 16.5% unemployment, at the worst point. That's the highest it's been in almost 40 years. That makes them the group with the second highest unemployment. You have all of these factors coming together for Black women specifically that makes them more vulnerable to this eviction crisis. We've been talking to folks across the country, who are trying to help renters with eviction cases. They tell us over and over again, "The majority of the cases we're looking at are people of color, and the majority of those are typically Black women specifically." We already know, with some of the data that we have so far this year, that the renters that are most likely to be behind on their payment are Black women.
Callie: What are the long-term consequences of eviction, especially for Black women?
Chabeli: You don't want an eviction on your record. Having an eviction on your record makes it much harder to find stable, good housing, affordable housing in the future. It's already an incredible impediment to getting that stability. There's also other complications, children who are evicted face child welfare issues. They face mental health issues. Their education could be stopped. There's a number of factors that play out, this ripple effect, that comes out when you have an eviction.
What it does is really puts you in a cycle, where you have an eviction, now it's even harder to find housing. It's even harder to find affordable housing. It's a cycle of poverty that becomes very difficult to come out of. Unfortunately, what we have seen already historically, is that Black women have been finding themselves in that cycle already. That's the concern now, is how much the pandemic is going to heighten that issue.
Callie: How effective has the CDC’s moratorium on evictions been? Have Black women, for instance, found real protection through it?
Chabeli: Yes. There have been several moratoriums this year. The CDC is only the latest one. Earlier in the year, CARES Act, the first Coronavirus stimulus, put a moratorium into July 24th. We saw some states and localities also have their own moratoriums. Then the CDC one came into effect on September 4th. Each one has had different parameters for the kind of protections that it has. Specifically with the CDC moratorium, it's for nonpayment of rent. Folks can still be evicted for other issues, like noise or having too many people in your apartment. Issues that can come up in a pandemic if you're doubling up with family or you lost your job. There are a number of other situations and other routes that landlords can take to try to evict folks, even with this moratorium in place right now.
Recently, the CDC clarified a little bit its moratorium, essentially saying, "Landlords can already file evictions. Even though they're not going to get taken to court or processed yet, those evictions can be filed." We've seen some 162,000 or so evictions filed across the country already. It's difficult to say specifically who, but just what we know anecdotally from different areas in the country, where folks are handling a large number of eviction cases, many of those are eviction cases dealing with Black women specifically.
Callie: On Monday, the New York legislature approved a bill that puts a ban on all evictions caused by COVID-based hardships until May. Are other states taking similar measures to help their residents?
Chabeli: I haven't heard of other states, although I did hear about the New York case, and that seems to be an anomaly. I haven't really heard of other states that are taking this up. The question really with these moratoriums is, moratorium is a band aid. We're still going to have to deal with what is the primary issue here, which in a month, at the end of January, is still that we are 10, 11 months of back rent that folks have not paid. That's the thing with the moratorium, is it gets at some of the issue because it keeps people in their houses, it keeps them safe in a pandemic. You don't want them out on the street or an overcrowded shelters. There are still months and months of back rent that need to come due.
Callie: As we've said, the disproportionate rate of Black women being evicted in this country has only been made worse because of the pandemic. Is there any hope that COVID-19 could inspire state or federal officials to really tackle systemic issues that led to this disparity?
Chabeli: Yes. I think that's really the hope for a lot of what's happened during the pandemic, is that we're going to look at these issues a little bit closer. Like you said, this is a historic issue. The reason that Black women are most effected, if we think about the new deal, if we think about redlining, if we think about policies that denied domestic workers and farm workers, which a lot of them were Black women from labor protections, this is all comes back historically.
What is perhaps slightly reassuring is we know the Biden administration is really focused on this problem, wanting to address it. They say day one. We'll see what happens in January, but Biden has proposed expanding funding for Section 8, the voucher program. He has proposed two tax credits that are targeted specifically at renters. One would let them write off housing costs that exceed 30% of their income. The other one would let them get an advanceable credits of up to $15,000 to pay for the down payment of a house.
We know that there is a focus in the incoming administration on this issue. He just appointed Representative Marcia Fudge as the Head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, of HUD. She is a Black woman who is specifically focused on civil rights, on trying to address these disparities. That's what we spoke to her recently at The 19th. She said, "Short-term, I really want to keep people from being evicted from their houses. Long-term, I want to run a bottom-up approach, where I talk to people who run public housing, people who live in public housing, people who build low-income housing." Her focus gives us some idea of how this following administration could potentially address some of these long running disparities.
Callie: Chabeli Carrrazana is an economy reporter for The 19th. Chabeli, thanks for being here.
New York Public Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline, often by contractors. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of New York Public Radio’s programming is the audio record.