2 people who face eviction on the expiring ban: ‘The nightmare is not over’

A woman walks past a wall in Los Angeles that has graffiti reading "Forgive Our Rent"
The national eviction ban ends on July 31.

  • The national eviction ban ends Saturday, putting many renters at risk.
  • Wendy Fink, a preschool teacher in Phoenix, owes $1,700 in unpaid rent.
  • Mehran Mossaddad, a father in Atlanta, isn’t sure if his landlord will renew his lease.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The national eviction moratorium is set to expire July 31. But as the economy struggles to regain pre-pandemic momentum, many renters are grappling with months of unpaid rent.

The Biden administration on Thursday said renewing the eviction ban is left up to Congress. Experts estimate 6 million Americans face eviction once housing protections end Saturday. Some states have extended the moratorium for a while longer, but most are set to end protections.

In December, Congress approved $25 billion in rental assistance and another $21 billion in March, but the funds have been slow to disperse to landlords and tenants due to software issues, hesitancy among states to sign off on payments, and other complications.

Insider spoke with two people who are uncertain about the future of their housing arrangements and could face eviction when the moratorium ends.

Mehran Mossaddad, 59, is a father living in Atlanta, Georgia, who owed over $23,000 in unpaid rent

A man with glasses in a shirt and tie
Mehran Mossaddad.

When we first entered lockdown last March, I stopped driving for Uber full time to take care of my 10-year-old daughter and help with online learning.

Because there was no daycare, no school, and I couldn’t afford a babysitter, I fell behind in rent and used the $800 I had in savings to pay for food.

I received $125 a week in unemployment (plus an additional $600 a week in federal aid until it ended last year, then $300 a week until it ended two months ago) but it was slow to arrive, and I didn’t receive my first stimulus check until earlier this year due to an error with my social security.

Last August, I received my first eviction notice. My rent is $1,600 a month, and at the time of my first eviction notice I was four months behind. The property management company opened a court case against me, and once that happened I had a record, which made it impossible for me to rent or buy another place. I tried and shopped around at 10 different apartments, but no one would have me.

During this time, I had a lot of anxiety. One day when I came home from the grocery store, I saw police cars outside of my neighbor’s house because they were getting evicted. My knees started shaking so badly I had to sit down. My limbs would go numb in the middle of the night just thinking about whether or not we would have a home the next day.

I don’t think I’ll ever be mended. I have no other family here in Georgia and no Plan B if my daughter and I were to be evicted.

DeKalb County, where I live, puts a cap on how much federal assistance renters can have. Last month, after multiple conversations with the county and the property management, we agreed I would pay $10,000 of the $23,000 I owed in back rent for the eviction notice to be resolved. The county offered $5,000, so I had to scrape together the rest from friends and started driving for Uber again.

Once the agreement was signed and I paid my half of the $10,000, the property management agreed to give me two months of rent for free and forgave the rest. But the eviction notice still remains on my record, and the landlord hasn’t indicated whether or not it will agree to renew my lease at the end of this month.

I hope the government will extend the moratorium, but I still have anxiety attacks because the nightmare is not over. I stay up at night thinking, is this a new era for us? Or is this the beginning of the dark ages?

Wendy Fink, 52, is a preschool teacher living in Phoenix, Arizona, and has $1,700 in unpaid rent

A woman outside looking at the camera
Wendy Fink.

The preschool I work at closed for two weeks in March 2020 and I was furloughed, then opened and closed several more times.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I was able to keep up with our $1,300-a-month rent because I had some money saved and my mother, who was on social security, helped. There were several times where I tried to get on unemployment, but I gave up because it was impossible to get anyone on the phone to help or receive an email back.

Everything changed earlier this year. We started receiving late notices in the mail from our property management because we had over $4,000 in back rent. The apartment complex I live in charges $15 per day for late rent, and it quickly started getting out of hand. I paid what I could, which was not much because I wasn’t working full time, and even with the stimulus checks and living slim, we kept falling short.

In March, we received $3,400 in rental aid from a nonprofit in Phoenix. It was a lengthy process, and I was thrilled to finally be able to start to catch up, but then my mother became very sick and was hospitalized. We found out earlier this summer she had stage four pancreatic cancer.

I didn’t want her to live out her final days in a hospice facility, so we set up a hospital bed in our living room and I stopped working to focus on her health. The doctors said we would have months, but it actually turned out to only be weeks. She passed away in June at the age of 75.

By the time my mother died, I owed $3,900 in back rent. My son paid off $2,200 of it, but as the eviction moratorium is coming to an end I don’t have any hope Maricopa County, where I live, will extend it. I’ve started to prepare for the worst, and in the darkest corners of my mind I think I might have to end up in a residential hotel, which is a dismal place to live.

Last month, I started a GoFundMe to help make up the $1,700 I still owe, but haven’t been able to hit $1,000. It was embarrassing for me to even start a fundraiser because in this country there’s so much stigma around being poor. I’m relying a lot on the generosity of my friends and family right now, but I’m sure I’ll be served with an eviction notice on the first of August. I have no doubt.

The past few months have been stressful and I’m white-knuckling it. The pandemic has made me realize anyone can end up in this situation, especially with wages as low as they are and rent as high as it is. We’re told to save our money, but when you have nothing to save, you can’t prepare for an emergency.

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