The Demand Solutions Blog

When the Other Shoe Drops: Avoiding Evictions After Lockdown

Posted by Guest Contributor on Jun 11, 2020 9:08:58 AM

Helping Hands COVID19 in MultifamilyOver the last few weeks, as we have tracked multifamily performance through turbulent markets, collections have been a natural and frequent focus. With moratoria being lifted in some markets, the possibility of evictions weighs on our minds. We reached out to our friends at the Resident Relief Foundation - in this guest blog, Executive Director, Tina Oswald shares a different perspective.

Summer is here, and beleaguered multifamily operators and their residents would like nothing more than to put coronavirus in the rearview mirror. It is time to get on with what is typically a busy time of year for leasing. 

While April and May rent collections were better than expected, now is not the time to get lulled into a false sense of security. The unfortunate reality is that we’re going to be living with the operational and financial fallout from the pandemic for the foreseeable future.

The obvious concern for property owners and managers is rent collection amidst the uncertainty surrounding assistance programs, payment deferment and eviction moratoria. And even if an owner or operator has the legal authority to evict, it doesn’t mean that’s what they want to or should do.

Swift action by Congress has kept money in consumers’ pockets (for now), and various federal, state and local initiatives have prolonged rent deadlines and staved off evictions. But some percentage of the 40 million out-of-work Americans will eventually find themselves unable to pay rent. What then? 

In this together

It is time for the multifamily industry to band together to prepare for whatever comes next. That was why we formed the “Resident Relief Initiative,” a fundraising coalition of multifamily investors, owners and operators dedicated to raising urgently-needed funds to help keep responsible renters in their homes when government aid runs out. 

In Colorado, for example, the statewide eviction moratorium is set to expire on June 15. While Denver may extend its moratorium, at some point residents will face court dates, a massive hit to their credit and will possibly have to vacate their apartments. 

Once eviction moratoria are lifted, unemployment benefits run out and public emergency funds are exhausted, private philanthropy needs to step in to provide the short-term relief that will be so desperately needed. 

Collectively raising funds to help residents in need is not just “the right thing to do,” it sends a positive message to our communities that landlords actually do care about the residents we serve. It’s good for business: after all, landlords seldom like to evict good residents.

And that’s why we are asking everyone in the industry to play a part in the Resident Relief Initiative. By forming a coalition of multifamily organizations, we can demonstrate to even larger foundations, individual donors and corporate benefactors that we agree collectively on the size of the problem and how to solve it. 

Even if the HEROES Act passes the U.S. Senate, another round of Economic Impact Payments will only prop up the economy for so long. Its Emergency Rental Assistance provision will only help lower-income brackets, meaning renters who make over whatever they designate as “acceptable” won’t qualify. In cities where median incomes are high, this income limit will still leave large swaths of residents impacted; the Resident Relief Foundation imposes no such restrictions. For those who do qualify for assistance, the amount they receive may still not be enough to make ends meet, and grants from the RRF can fill those gaps.

What you can do

The need is urgent, and the time to act is now. Industry partners and donors already on board the Initiative include Pinnacle Property Management, Colorado Apartment Association, LeaseLock, Luxer One, MYND Property Management, Veritas Impact Partners, Domuso and Gelt, Inc. To add your organization to the growing list of supporters, we are asking multifamily owners, operators and vendors to make a generous donation, or to coordinate with the Foundation to create a co-branded fundraising page to introduce the Initiative to their stakeholders. 

The Resident Relief Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides grants to help responsible residents pay rent during a temporary, unexpected emergency. All grants are paid directly to landlords on behalf of the qualified resident. Because the founders personally cover all overhead, 100 percent of donations directly help those qualified residents. By fundraising now, we will be in the best position possible to prevent needless eviction and ensure more landlords collect unpaid rent. 

Tina Oswald can be reached at tina@residentrelief.org. For more information, please visit residentrelieffoundation.org/support-the-initiative and follow @ResidentRelief on Twitter, and @ResidentReliefFoundation and #ResidentRelief on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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Topics: Multifamily Trends