500,000 People Could Face Evictions in Nevada With Protections Set to Expire

Governor Steve Sisolak had planned to lift the Nevada's eviction moratorium, as it applies to residential tenancies, on Tuesday. But in response to increased public concern about resuming rental payments as many continue to face financial challenges during the coronavirus pandemic, he announced a 45-day moratorium extension on Monday evening.

Researchers have estimated that as many as 500,000 renters could have faced displacement from the moratorium's expiration, with recent studies suggesting that between 37 and 47 percent of Nevada households were at risk of eviction. But the degree to which Sisolak's extension will affect those numbers, if at all, is not yet clear.

A report by the nonprofit Aspen Institute, in collaboration with the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project, highlighted an urgent need to suspend eviction proceedings past September. The report, released August 7, analyzed responses to the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey to determine tenants' confidence in their abilities to pay September rent across the country. Based on responses filed by Nevada residents, the report found that between 419,000 and 501,000 people risked possible eviction by the end of 2020.

Additional studies estimated that most of those evictions would take place shortly after Nevada's moratorium was lifted, if the governor had stuck to the original timeline. A July report published by the Guinn Center, a nonprofit research and policy analysis organization that focuses on issues affecting Nevada, suggested between 272,000 and 327,000 tenants risked eviction by September. Accounting for lower unemployment benefits and, later, depleted savings, it said up to 400,000 people could be at risk by December.

Low-income tenants, people of color and undocumented renters have higher eviction risks than others, the Guinn Center noted in its report. Individuals unable to access unemployment insurance or stimulus payments, as well as middle-income earners with high rental-cost burdens, are also particularly vulnerable to the consequences of the moratorium's expiration.

The most significant portion of Nevada tenants at risk of housing loss live in the state's Clark County, where Las Vegas is located. The city was hit especially hard by the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, which stifled tourism and caused widespread unemployment. Figures included in the Guinn Center's July report showed almost 250,000 Clark County renters risked eviction by September.

On June 25, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak signed an emergency directive to gradually lift the state's eviction moratorium as the state began to reopen. The moratorium on evictions and foreclosures was originally imposed in March and applied to both commercial and residential properties.

"@NVTreasurer estimates as many as 130,000 people could be evicted in #Nevada over coming months [..] @GuinnCenter [..] estimates as many as 142,000 Nevada HH (more than 270,000 people) could soon be at risk of eviction." @AspenInstitute estimates 501,000 people face #eviction . https://t.co/a0pfMkQgLj

— Guinn Center (GCPP) (@GuinnCenter) August 20, 2020

The governor's emergency directive lifted moratoriums for commercial tenancies and mortgages starting July 1, allowing landlords and lenders to impose lockouts and initiate evictions if tenants did not pay rent. Landlords and lenders were also permitted to resume charging late fees for delayed rental payments. When Sisolak announced the phased moratorium expiration, he encouraged landlords and tenants to "work together and collaborate on repayment plans."

"It is just as imperative today as it was when I signed the original directive to allow Nevadans to stay home and stay safe as much as possible, while also providing clarity and a timeline in which rental obligations must be met," Sisolak said in the announcement.

Nevada is not the only state where tenants face a housing loss from eviction moratoriums that have expired or will soon. The Aspen Institute estimated that between 30 million and 40 million U.S. renters could face displacement because of expired moratoriums by the end of the year. In Pennsylvania, where Governor Tom Wolf's eviction moratorium expired on Tuesday, requests to extend the order were denied. In a statement Monday, Wolf's office said that "a legislative fix is necessary in order to protect homeowners and renters from eviction."

President Donald Trump signed an executive order related to eviction protection earlier this month, but many have pointed out that the policy does not offer assistance to most tenants unable to pay rent right now.

Newsweek reached out to the Sisolak's office and the Guinn Center for comments but did not receive replies in time for publication.

This story was updated on September 1 to reflect Governor Sisolak's announcement extending the eviction moratorium for residential tenancies in Nevada.

Notice to vacate
A notice to vacate in the window of a foreclosed residence in Glendale, California, in 2012. With Nevada's eviction moratorium set to expire on Tuesday, researchers estimate as many as 500,000 statewide renters could face a housing loss by the end of the year. ROBYN BECK/AFP/GettyImages