Stand up for the facts!

Misinformation isn't going away just because it's a new year. Support trusted, factual information with a tax deductible contribution to PolitiFact.

More Info

I would like to contribute

A woman applauds a speaker during a rally in Boston protesting housing eviction on June 9, 2021. (AP) A woman applauds a speaker during a rally in Boston protesting housing eviction on June 9, 2021. (AP)

A woman applauds a speaker during a rally in Boston protesting housing eviction on June 9, 2021. (AP)

By D.L. Davis September 3, 2021

Yes, “millions of Americans” could lose their housing in the middle of a pandemic

If Your Time is short

  • The U.S. Census Bureau’s weekly Household Pulse Survey found that 3,511,056 respondents are facing the “likelihood” of eviction in the next two months.

  •  Several media reports also noted that the threat of homelessness could impact millions as the U.S. Supreme Court ended the pandemic-related federal moratorium.

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the economy, and that has been felt especially in the housing sector. To prevent widespread evictions that would likely mean more people being unhoused or homeless, the federal government implemented a moratorium on evictions. 

But that safety net is unraveling as the U.S. Supreme Court on August 26, 2021, on a 6-3 vote, ended the pandemic-related federal moratorium on residential evictions put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

At least four states, Illinois, California, New Jersey, New Mexico as well as  Washington, D.C., will continue to ban evictions, at least temporarily. In at least five states, renters who’ve put in an application for rent assistance but haven’t received the funding yet are entitled to some protection from eviction. Those are Washington state, Oregon, Minnesota, New York and Nevada. The White House called on more states to take action to prevent evictions.

"Horrifying to think that millions of Americans have to worry about losing their housing in the middle of a pandemic." U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., tweeted on August 27, 2021.

Is Pocan right that "millions of Americans" could lose their housing in the middle of a pandemic?

Let’s take a look.

When asked to support the claim, Pocan’s office referred PolitiFact Wisconsin to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Week 35 Household Pulse Survey: August 4 – August 16. The HPS, according to the Census Bureau, is designed to provide near real-time data on how the pandemic has affected people’s lives. 

Under the category of "Likelihood of leaving this home due to eviction in next two months," 1,292,008 responded Very Likely and 2,219,048 responded Somewhat likely. That is a total of  3,511,056 facing the "likelihood" of eviction in the next two months.

Media reports

The New York Times in an August 27, 2021 article "Supreme Court’s Decision Opens Door to Millions of Evictions" reported that "Millions of Americans around the country face the prospect of losing their homes after the Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the Biden administration’s latest federal moratorium on evictions."

The article pointed out that the Biden administration is working to speed up the distribution of billions of dollars in federal aid to people who are behind in rent because of the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. 

In an August 3, 2021 report, PolitiFact National discussed "What’s happening with the federal eviction moratorium and rental assistance?" 

Featured Fact-check

The PolitiFact article, citing Census Bureau reports, noted that about 3.6 million people face eviction within two months, and about 6 million households are behind on their rent; estimates of the back rent owed are in the tens of billions of dollars.  

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in a July 8, 2021, article noted, "A surge in evictions is almost certain to happen when the moratorium ends. But the truth is they've been happening all along.’ The special report said that evictions in Milwaukee County were continuing despite the moratorium.

"In reality, the eviction ban is far from absolute and only covers tenants who meet its criteria, which includes a substantial loss of income or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses," according to the Journal Sentinel report.

Housing advocate weighs in 

Attorney Carmen Ayers, Legal Action of Wisconsin’s housing law priority coordinator, said the agency is seeing many clients "facing the pain and trauma of losing their home, and often many of their belongings, to eviction."

"Millions of Americans are at risk of eviction," Ayers said in an email. "In Wisconsin alone, about 23,000 tenants are likely to face eviction in the next two months, according to Census surveys. Being homeless during a pandemic is horrifying — people are risking their health and lives when they double up with friends or family or seek refuge in crowded homeless shelters, and it exacerbates the risk to public health overall."

Ayers went on to note that evictions and facing homelessness "has always been traumatic and consequential."

"It pushes families further into poverty and harms communities. But to force families from their homes — many who are immunocompromised, elderly, or families with children too young to be vaccinated — as the pandemic rages on is simply inhumane," Ayers said.

Our ruling

Pocan said the end of the eviction moratorium means "millions of Americans" could lose their housing in the middle of a pandemic."

The U.S. Census Bureau’s weekly Household Pulse Survey found that 3,511,056 respondents are facing the "likelihood" of eviction in the next two months. Several media reports also noted that the threat of homelessness could impact millions as the U.S. Supreme Court ended the pandemic-related federal moratorium. However, there are a few states that have implemented eviction moratoriums at the state level. Wisconsin is not one of those  states.

For a statement that is accurate and there’s nothing significant missing, our rating is True.

 

Our Sources

Rep. Mark Pocan, Twitter, August 27, 2021

 

Email, Matthew Handverger, office of Rep. Mark Pocan, August 30, 2021

 

Email, Legal Action of Wisconsin, Sept. 1, 2021.

 

CNBC, "The national eviction ban is over. But renters still can’t be forced out in these states," August 30, 2021. 

 

Associated Press, "White House calls on states to prevent evictions," August 2, 2021.

 

U.S. Census Bureau’s Week 35 Household Pulse Survey: August 4 – August 16, August 25, 2021.

 

New York Times "Supreme Court’s Decision Opens Door to Millions of Evictions" August 27, 2021. 

 

PolitiFact National "What’s happening with the federal eviction moratorium and rental assistance?" August 3, 2021. 

 

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "A surge in evictions is almost certain to happen when the moratorium ends. But the truth is they've been happening all along," July 8, 2021.

 

NPR, "The Supreme Court Will Allow Evictions To Resume. It Could Affect Millions Of Tenants," August 26, 2021.


 

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by D.L. Davis

Yes, “millions of Americans” could lose their housing in the middle of a pandemic

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up