That tidal wave of evictions hasn’t hit yet. State, local efforts are making the difference, report | Friday Morning Coffee

February 12, 2021 7:05 am

(Getty Images photo)

Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

With the first anniversary of the pandemic just weeks away, a long-warned “tsunami” of evictions has yet to hit. That’s the good news.

Now the bad news. As Bloomberg’s CityLab reports, there’s been a more gradual wave in eviction filings, thanks to changes in tenant protections. In fact, legal challenges to remove tenants are up almost everywhere, according to a year’s worth of data across 27 U.S. cities tracked by Princeton University’s Eviction LabCityLab reported.

And that’s despite the fact that a moratorium imposed by the federal Centers for Disease Control is still in place, and that has been extended into the spring, CityLab reported.

“Generally speaking, the CDC moratorium is doing what it was intended to do,” Diane Yentel, the president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, told CityLab. “But there are many shortcomings in the order and an alarming number of evictions despite the moratorium. We have been calling on [President Joe] Biden and CDC Director [Rochelle P.] Walensky to not only extend the moratorium, but to strengthen and improve and enforce the moratorium.”

As CityLab further reports, Yentel and Shamus Roller, the executive director of the National Housing Law Project, sent a letter to Walensky on Jan. 21, where they sought a meeting to discuss ways to improve the federal eviction ban. So far, they haven’t received a reply.

Housing advocates stage a demonstration outside a press conference held by Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday. Capital-Star photo by Elizabeth Hardison.

As of last week, there were 110 eviction filings in Philadelphia, and 3,363 since last March 15, according to that Princeton data.

(Princeton Eviction Lab)

“The state of Pennsylvania enacted a strong eviction moratorium that extended until Aug. 31,” the Princeton data notes. “Eviction filings related to nonpayment of rent were not accepted during that period, and filings in Philadelphia County were down to zero in April, May, and June. Filings increased markedly following the end of the moratorium.”

In Pittsburgh, there were 105 such filings as of last week, with a total of 2,767 since last March 15, according to the Princeton data.

“Eviction filings in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh) were down to nearly zero in April, May, and June, but increased markedly following the end of the moratorium,” the Princeton researchers noted.

(Princeton University Eviction Lab)

Last week, state lawmakers gave final approval, and Gov, Tom Wolf signed a $912 million COVID-19 relief package that will send federal stimulus money to Pennsylvania’s tenants, utility ratepayers, schools and business owners, the Capital-Star’s Elizabeth Hardison reported.

As CityLab notes, those state and local efforts have made a difference in eviction filings, as illustrated by the chart below:

(Bloomberg CityLab)

“Around the country, local and state actions make all the difference. In Boston and Pittsburgh, filings spiked after state moratoriums expired, while local and state orders have kept eviction filings out of courts in Austin and Minneapolis,” CityLab reported. “Generally, these orders have softened over time, as governors and courts have chipped away at them or as the clock ran out, even as the pandemic got worse. Winter is typically the slowest season for evictions, but the pandemic winter saw filings trending upward in cities across the U.S. As of February, few local or state orders remain.”

Fortunately, “eviction filings haven’t reached pre-pandemic levels in most places,” CityLab reported, adding that ” …It’s hard to know how many evictions are actually happening. A lack of data makes it incredibly difficult to track evictions even in normal times, and the pandemic presents some special obstacles to measuring housing [precariousness] across the country. Thousands of landlords aren’t filing evictions now but may yet still; thousands of evictions, legal or otherwise, simply aren’t being recorded.”

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Our Stuff.
With a state Supreme Court seat up for grabs this fall, the playing field for Pennsylvania’s 2021 judicial elections is starting to take shapeStephen Caruso reports.

Philly schools chief William Hite is staying mum on the state of the district’s standoff with city teachers. But he did stress Thursday that it’s safe for kids to return to school, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report.

‘Is this America?’ A Black Capitol police officer’s question is what the Trump trial is all about, your humble newsletter author opines in a new column.

On our Commentary Page this morning, a quartet of Democratic lawmakers — all women — say the state needs to keep the focus on women’s health issues in 2021. And a UMass/Amherst scholar talks to Ghana’s former president about how he took his country’s historic role in the chattel slave trade and turned into an opportunity for education and heritage tourism.

Schools in Pennsylvania are preparing to reopen after being closed since March. (Source: WikiMedia Commons)

In the Philly ‘burbs, the debate over whether to bring kids back to the classroom is now as political as the 2020 election, the Inquirer reports.
More than 1,000 Pittsburgh residents had their COVID-19 vaccine appointments canceled, the Post-Gazette reports.
Gov. Tom Wolf wants to give wrongly convicted people $50,000 for every year they spent in prisonPennLive reports.
A pandemic-related surge in drug use across the commonwealth is leading to as many as 13 deaths a day, putting 2020 on course to be the worst year in recent memory, the Morning Call reports.
U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-8th District, is calling for changes at the overwhelmed U.S. Postal Service, the Citizens-Voice reports.
The York Daily Record talks to U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., about his priorities now that the Democrats have a functional majority in the Senate.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by USA Prime Shots ?? (@usaprimeshot)

Survivors want to know why Philadelphia, wracked by gun violence, won’t declare a gun violence emergencyWHYY-FM reports.
Two Republican state lawmakers are speaking out on their support for having Pennsylvania’s electoral votes overturned. One of them is having second thoughtsWITF-FM reports.
The Erie School District is suing Juul, claiming the vaping company targeted young people, GoErie reports.
Mariah Fisher, a member of the Ligonier Borough Council, in Westmoreland County, is the Democratic candidate for the special election in the 59th House DistrictPoliticsPA reports. The seat was formerly held by Republican Rep. Mike Reese, who died in January.
As they wrapped up their case, House managers in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial urged senators to find the ‘courage’ to convict the former president.
Politico looks at the choice facing former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley: Becoming the leader of the post-Trump GOP or remaining loyal to a man who tried to topple American democracy.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Have a birthday for yourself — or someone else — you’d like noted in this space? Drop us a line at [email protected], and we’ll get you set up.

Heavy Rotation.
We’ll go out this week with some classic deejay dub from the legendary Dennis Alcapone. Here’s ‘Revelation Version.’

Friday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Carolina handed Dallas their fourth loss in a row, besting the Stars 5-3 on Thursday nightCarolina’s Nino Niederreiter scored the tie-breaker midway through the third period to power the Canes to the win.

And now you’re up to date.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.