The eviction system, which saw a dramatic drop in cases before a federal moratorium expired over the weekend, rumbled back into action Monday, with activists girding for the first of what could be millions of affected tenants to be tossed onto the street.
Phoenix has over 42,000 eviction filings pending and Houston has over 37,000 after the eviction moratorium ended July 31 and Congress was unable to extend it, the Associated Press reported.
Las Vegas has nearly 27,000 filings and Tampa has more than 15,000. Indiana and Missouri have over 80,000 eviction filings pending. At least 600 tenants in Detroit with court orders against them are at immediate risk.
"It's very scary with the moratorium being over. All they need in Detroit is a landlord to pay for a dumpster," said Ted Phillips, a lawyer who leads the United Community Housing Coalition.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
In Rhode Island, landlords tired of waiting for federal rental assistance were in court hoping to evict their tenants.
The Biden administration allowed the federal moratorium to expire over the weekend and Congress was unable to extend it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic leaders called for an immediate extension, calling it a "moral imperative" to prevent Americans from being put out of their homes during a COVID-19 surge.
In announcing the end of the ban, the Biden administration said its hands were tied after the U.S. Supreme Court signaled the measure had to end. It had hoped that historic amounts of rental assistance allocated by Congress in December and March would help avert an eviction crisis.
But the distribution has been painfully slow. Only about $3 billion of the first tranche of $25 billion had been distributed through June by states and localities. Another $21.5 billion will go to the states.
More than 15 million people live in households that owe as much as $20 billion to their landlords, according to the Aspen Institute. As of July 5, roughly 3.6 million people in the U.S. said they faced eviction in the next two months, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey.
Parts of the South and other regions with weaker tenant protections will likely see the largest spikes and communities of color where vaccination rates are sometimes lower will be hit hardest. But advocates say this crisis is likely to have a wider impact than pre-pandemic evictions, hitting families who have never before been behind on rent.
In Rhode Island, Gabe Imondi, a 74-year-old landlord, was in court Monday hoping to get an eviction execution. It's the final step to push a tenant out of one of four housing units he owns in Pawtucket.
Imondi said he and his tenant have both filed forms for the billions in federal aid meant to help keep tenants in their homes but so far, he says, he hasn't seen a cent of the state's $200 million share.
A retired general contractor, Imondi estimates he's out around $20,000 in lost rent since September, when he began seeking to evict his tenant for non-payment. The eviction was approved in January.
"I don't know what they're doing with that money," Imondi said.
Housing Court Judge Walter Gorman said before opening court in Providence that he had about 20 cases on the docket Monday, about half of them eviction cases. He expected the rush of evictions would come in about a week or so.
But there was more optimism in Virginia, where Tiara Burton, 23, learned she would be getting federal help and wouldn't be evicted. She initially feared the worst when the moratorium lifted over the weekend.
"That was definitely a worry yesterday," said Burton, 23, who lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia. "If they're going to start doing evictions again, then I'm going to be faced with having to figure out where me and my family are going to go. And that's not something that anyone should have to worry about these days at all."
She was relieved on Monday to be told by an attorney representing various landlords that she had been approved for assistance through the Virginia Rent Relief Program. Her court hearing was postponed for 30 days, during which time she and her landlord can presumably work things out.
"I'm grateful for that because that's something that was a worry every month," she said. "Going into today and just hearing, 'OK, we're going to push it back 30 days, but we're going to assist you still,'...that's another weight lifted off of my shoulders."
Around the country, courts, legal advocates and law enforcement agencies are gearing up for evictions to return to pre-pandemic levels, a time when 3.7 million people were displaced from their homes every year, or seven every minute, according to the Eviction Lab at Princeton University.