Veronica Jackson, 70, says the coronavirus pandemic has delivered her blow after blow. Two of her family members have died from COVID-19, and she’s lost a lot of hours at work. Now, Jackson is at risk of losing her home in Portsmouth, Virginia, as well.
Jackson is one of 12.4 million Americans who had fallen behind on their rent as of November. She says divine intervention has bought her more time. A local church stepped up to help her pay some of her back rent. But Jackson worries about what will happen if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not extend its federal moratorium on evictions, which expires Dec. 31.
“It’s going to be a mess because I’m just only one individual that’s going through this,” Jackson said.
Experts warn an “eviction tsunami” is imminent if the CDC and other federal eviction protections under the CARES Act are allowed to expire and if Congress does not extend federal pandemic unemployment programs which end on Dec. 26.
If those programs end, an estimated 10 million Americans will lose their unemployment benefits immediately and 3.8 million more will be in danger of losing theirs within weeks.
“I just hope and pray that something happens, that our government does something to help,” Jackson said.
If you are having trouble making ends meet, here are some places you may be able to find help:
- Local houses of worship. You don’t have to be a member to ask for assistance.
- City and county governments. States aren’t the only ones with rent assistance programs in place.
- Search “food banks near me” on the internet. There may be resources you didn’t know about right down the street from you.
- Look on neighborhood apps like Nextdoor. Some people are offering to help neighbors in need.
If federal protections on evictions are allowed to expire on Dec. 31, here are the state protections that are in place.
No evictions allowed during the state of emergency and for 60 days after.
A judge ruled Wednesday that landlords can start the court process for evictions, but they will not be carried out until 60 days after the state of emergency ends.
You can’t be evicted for not paying rent if you can prove in court that you have had a substantial loss of income due to the pandemic or if someone in your household currently has COVID-19.
Starting Jan. 1, your landlord will have to give you a 14-day notice, instead of five days, before filing a case in court. Your landlord must also apply for rent assistance on your behalf through the state’s rent relief program.
There’s also a law in Virginia that allows you to request a 60-day continuance of your court case if you have no source of income.
No evictions protections in place.