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Trump Executive Order: The New Eviction Moratorium

The Trump administration has announced an order to suspend the possibility of eviction for millions of renters who have suffered financially because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the order was an emergency action, which it is entitled to take under the law.

Here are the answers to questions that renters may have about the order, which is more expansive than the now-expired moratorium that was part of the virus relief package this spring. We will add to this list as we learn more. Please email your questions to

Who is eligible?

You must meet a five-pronged test.

  • You need to have used your “best efforts” to obtain any and all forms of government rental assistance.

  • You can’t “expect” to earn more than $99,000 in 2020, or $198,000 if you’re married and filing a joint tax return. If you don’t qualify that way, you could still be eligible if you did not need to report any income at all to the federal government in 2019 or if you received a stimulus check earlier this year.

  • You must be experiencing a “substantial” loss of household income, a layoff or “extraordinary” out-of-pocket medical expenses (which the order defines as any unreimbursed expense likely to exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income this year).

  • You have to be making your best efforts to make “timely” partial payments that are as close to the full amount due as “circumstances may permit,” taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses.

  • Eviction would “likely” lead to either homelessness or your having to move to a place that is more expensive or where you could get sick from being close to others.

A lot of that is pretty subjective. If it’s a close call, who decides?

Landlords who disagree with renters’ self-assessments could try to evict nonpaying tenants and dare them to fight back legally. Then, it could be up to a housing court judge to decide if a renter is eligible for the moratorium or if the landlord can, in fact, evict.

How do I prove to my landlord that I’m eligible?

The C.D.C. order makes reference to a declaration that renters should draft and then provides an example of one near the end of the document.

Who should make a declaration?

The order says that every adult who is on the lease should draft and sign their own declaration.

I have a roommate. What happens if one of us is under the income cap but the other is not?

The rules for roommates are not clear. We are asking federal officials for more clarity and will update this article when we know more.

I’m in a pretty bad way. Can I stretch the truth some?

You shouldn’t. The order makes a point of noting that the declaration “is sworn testimony, meaning that you can be prosecuted, go to jail, or pay a fine if you lie, mislead, or omit important information.”

What do I do with the declarations once they are done?

Email, send or hand them to the landlord in a way that allows you to get proof that the landlord received them. That way, there will be no question as to whether you did what you were supposed to do. Make sure you keep a copy for yourself.

Then what?

Keep paying as much as you can. Otherwise, you risk failing the eligibility test, which says that you should be trying to make partial payments to the best of your ability.

Can the landlord still evict me for reasons other than nonpayment?

Yes. All the usual rules about criminal behavior or disruptions or destruction of property still apply. And it’s possible that a landlord will look hard for some other reason to start the eviction process, so it’s wise to follow every term of the lease, as well as any other building or property rule.

Will interest or penalties accrue?

The order does not forbid landlords from charging fees, penalties or interest. Nor does it place any restrictions on how high they can go. Check your lease to see if there are any provisions about how this may work.

Will I have to pay everything I owe all at once in January?

You might. The order specifically mentions this possibility.

Does the order apply to every landlord and every residential renter in the country?

No. Aside from the income caps, your local rules may apply instead. If you’re in a state, territory or tribal area that already has a moratorium in place that provides the same or better level of protection, then that more local action will take its place. Local jurisdictions are also still free to impose stronger restrictions than the federal order. California’s moratorium goes through the end of January, for example.

The federal moratorium doesn’t apply in American Samoa, though it will if it reports its first coronavirus cases.

I’m living in a motel right now. Does the order apply to those properties?

No. The order specifically excludes hotels and motels.

What about Airbnb rentals and other similar properties?

The order excludes any “guest house rented to a temporary guest or seasonal tenant as defined under the laws of the state, territorial, tribal, or local jurisdiction.”

What if my landlord sends me an eviction notice anyway?

Seek counsel. You can search for a low- or no-cost legal assistance office near you via the Legal Services Corporation’s map. Just Shelter, a tenant advocacy group, also offers information on local organizations that can help renters.

Does the order specify the size of the penalties that landlords may be subject to?

Yes. An individual landlord could be subject to a fine up to $100,000 if no death (say from someone getting sick after eviction) results from the violation, or one year in jail, or both. If a death occurs, the fine rises to no more than $250,000. If it’s an organization in violation, the fines are $200,000 or $500,000.

Is the order legal?

The White House and Centers for Disease Control think so. It is possible that landlord industry groups or others will sue to stop it, in which case it will be up to the courts to decide.

When does the order take effect and how long does it last?

It takes effect as soon as it is published in the Federal Register. The order says that will happen on Sept. 4. The order applies through Dec. 31, and it’s possible that it could be extended.

I’m dizzy from all of the various local, state and federal orders. Is this the last of them?

Maybe not. Congress could pass a new relief package that would supersede this order.

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As Evictions Loom, Lawyers Are Gearing Up to Help

Just a few weeks ago, Jessie Reed was worried about being evicted from her Omaha apartment with her three young children. Her landlord had already tried to force her out in May when she stopped paying rent after quitting her job at an Omaha Steaks warehouse. One of her children has severe asthma, and Ms. Reed was worried she would unwittingly catch the coronavirus at work and transmit it.

But in June, a legal aid lawyer convinced a local judge that Ms. Reed was protected by a federal moratorium on evictions under the CARES Act, which Congress passed in March to cushion the economic fallout of the pandemic. The ruling has bought Ms. Reed, 32, time to settle her financial affairs.

“I wanted a lawyer as a backup because the landlord was trying to intimidate me,” she said.

For tenants, especially those with limited means, having a lawyer can be the difference between being evicted or being able to stay on in a rented home. Yet legal representation for tenants is relatively rare in housing courts. Surveys from several big cities over the years have shown that in housing court, landlords are represented by lawyers at least 80 percent time, while tenants tend to have lawyers in fewer than 10 percent of cases.

This unlevel playing field is about to come into sharper focus in the months ahead, now that the four-month pause on evictions provided by the CARES Act, followed by a 30-day notice period that ends on Monday, is coming to an end. The moratorium had provided protection to about 12 million tenants living in qualifying properties. Additionally, local moratoriums in some states had protected renters in homes not covered by the federal law.

“Tenants are not equipped to represent themselves, and eviction court places them on an uneven playing field that allows landlords to run roughshod over their rights,” said Ellie Pepper of the National Housing Resource Center, which focuses on housing policy and funding issues.

In New York, which in 2017 became the first American city to guarantee the right to a lawyer in housing court, the impact is clear. Since the law went into effect, 84 percent of tenants who had a lawyer managed to remain in their homes after a housing dispute, according to the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel, an advocacy group.

Demand for legal assistance with housing issues is on the rise in states where local moratoriums for rentals not covered by the CARES Act have already ended. In the Atlanta area, legal aid lawyers say calls seeking help in dealing with private landlords are running 25 percent higher than they were two months ago. In particular, lawyers said, calls are coming in from Clayton County, one of the poorest areas that Atlanta Legal Aid serves.

Credit…Walker Pickering for The New York Times

“Our caseloads haven’t yet exploded, because the courts just started hearing cases that were pending before the pandemic struck,” said Lindsey Siegel, a lawyer with Atlanta Legal Aid. “But it’s coming.” The nonprofit is bringing on additional lawyers and setting up housing clinics in local courts to advise renters, Ms. Siegel added.

Landlords have struggled, too, taking in 29 percent less in rent checks in the first 10 days of August than in the same period in March, according to a report from Rentec Direct, a property management information and tenant screening firm.

David Schwartz, chief executive officer of Waterton, a Chicago real estate firm that owns or manages 22,000 rental apartments in nearly two dozen states, said he and other large landlords didn’t favor another blanket moratorium to prevent evictions. But he does favor an extension of so-called enhanced unemployment payments for those out of work and rental assistance to help keep people in their apartments if they are willing to arrange payment plans with landlords.

“The problem with the moratorium is that there are households who just aren’t paying rent because they feel there are no repercussions,” said Mr. Schwartz, who is also chairman of the National Multifamily Housing Council, a landlord association.

Even tenants who have managed to patch together rent stand on shaky ground. For instance, Ms. Reed, who recently started offering child care for neighbors out of her home, could still be evicted if she can’t make a go of her business.

Her landlord, William Stanek, said he was waiting to see if Ms. Reed’s application to a local charity for rental assistance was approved. He said he might have to move again to evict her next month.

But for now, Mr. Stanek “has been very nice to me and my kids,” Ms. Reed said.

In Nebraska, where the local moratorium on evictions expired in May, at least 92,000 people are at risk of being forced out of their homes in the coming months, according to a report by consortium of housing advocates and public policy organizations. The report said that nationally, at least 30 million people — including those in homes not covered by the CARES Act moratorium — were in danger of being evicted without any new federal aid or a renewed pause.

In Omaha, Caitlin Cedfeldt, the lawyer who represented Ms. Reed, said she and her colleagues at Legal Aid of Nebraska were busier than ever.


Credit…Walker Pickering for The New York Times

“Right now I have to be in court four days a week. That’s a pretty high number for me,” said Ms. Cedfeldt, who has been working for Legal Aid for two and a half years. “Most of the time I used to be in court twice a week.”

Part of the reason she has been so busy is that many landlords who owned properties covered by the CARES Act jumped the gun in pushing for evictions before the moratorium ended. Ms. Cedfeldt said many renters who came to her were often unaware of their rights under the legislation.

One of those clients is Danni Rhiley, who lives in Maplewood Estates, a mobile home community in Omaha, with her two children, ages 14 and 12. Ms. Rhiley, 42, said she had fallen short on the rent money because she had to stop working as a full-time aide to a paraplegic man with a compromised immune system because of concerns about the coronavirus.

After her landlord, Kingsley Management, rejected a payment plan she had proposed just a few days before her first court date on July 22, Ms. Rhiley said, she reached out to Ms. Cedfeldt and Legal Aid.

Ms. Cedfeldt said she was able to get a nonpayment eviction lawsuit against Ms. Rhiley dismissed after she argued that it was filed in violation of the CARES Act. But with the CARES Act expiring, Kingsley, a Utah company that owns dozens of trailer parks across the country, has moved again to evict Ms. Rhiley.


Credit…Walker Pickering for The New York Times

Credit…Walker Pickering for The New York Times

Ms. Rhiley said she was worried about losing the trailer she had been renting since November. “The kids’ dad died in December, so it is just us,” she said. “I would probably be at a homeless shelter if I got evicted or living in my car.”

James McVay, the lawyer in Omaha for Kingsley Management, said that his client was willing to discuss a payment plan with Ms. Rhiley or her counsel, but that he had yet to hear from them.

Ms. Cedfeldt said that since taking on Ms. Rhiley’s case, she had found at least a dozen other eviction proceedings filed by Kingsley at Maplewood Estates that appeared to violate the CARES Act. She said that none of those renters had lawyers, and that it was frustrating to see at least one of tenant show up in court and clearly upset by the proceedings.

“All I could do was watch tenants show up to court and see them get evicted when they shouldn’t have been,” Ms. Cedfeldt said. “I especially remember seeing one woman who burst into tears any time the court asked if she had any response. It was awful.”

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Will Trump’s Executive Directives Provide Relief?

President Trump, in announcing his executive measures on Saturday, said he was bypassing Congress to deliver emergency pandemic aid to needy Americans. But his directives are rife with so much complexity and legal murkiness that they’re unlikely, in most cases, to bring fast relief — if any.

Because Congress controls federal spending, at least some of Mr. Trump’s actions will almost certainly be challenged in court. They could also quickly become moot if congressional leaders reach an agreement and pass their own relief package. Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California on Sunday dismissed Mr. Trump’s actions as unconstitutional and said a compromise deal was still needed. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he would be open to further talks with Democratic leaders: “Anytime they have a new proposal, I’m willing to listen.”

Mr. Trump’s executive steps on Saturday focused on four areas: extending supplemental unemployment benefits, suspending some payroll taxes, extending relief for student loan borrowers and offering eviction relief. Of the four, the student loan memorandum seems likely to be the least controversial and the easiest to carry out.

But his various executive actions did not include several forms of relief that have been part of recent negotiations, including lump-sum payments to citizens and additional relief for small businesses.

If all of Mr. Trump’s directives take effect, here’s how experts believe they could play out.

The expiration at the end of July of the extra $600 a week in federally paid unemployment benefits, supplementing whatever eligible Americans get from their state, created an urgent crisis for the estimated 30 million people relying on that cash.

Mr. Trump described his action as creating “an extra $400 per week in expanded benefits.” But policy analysts said the plan laid out in Mr. Trump’s memo was so complicated, and potentially costly, for states that people won’t get that money quickly, if at all.

“Nobody is going to see this money in August, and we’ll be lucky to see it in September,” said Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, a public policy research group.

The plan is full of caveats. First: It actually translates to an additional $300, not $400, for recipients because the federal government would pay for only 75 percent of cost. States would have to kick in the other 25 percent, or $100 per recipient, per week.

States can use the benefits they’re already paying to meet that criteria, a White House official said. But some people currently get less than $100 a week from their states, and they would be left out entirely unless their state agreed to increase their payments. That means the hardest-hit recipients, with the least financial support, “wouldn’t get anything at all from this,” Mr. Stettner said.

There are two more major catches. A big one is that the federal money is likely to vanish quickly. Mr. Trump directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to use up to $44 billion from its Disaster Relief Fund, which usually pays for emergency help after catastrophes like hurricanes and earthquakes, to cover the federal portion of the payments.




Trump Sidesteps Congress on Coronavirus Relief Actions

President Trump signed four actions on coronavirus relief Saturday after Congress negotiations stalled. It’s unclear what authority he has to do so, and the orders are likely to be challenged in the courts.

“I am providing a payroll tax holiday to Americans earning less than $100,000 per year. In a few moments I will sign a directive instructing the Treasury Department to allow employers to defer payment of the employee portion of certain payroll taxes. Second, I’m signing an executive order directing the Department of Housing and Urban Development, H.H.S. and C.D.C., to make sure renters and homeowners can stay in their homes. I’m taking action to provide an additional, or an extra, $400 per week in expanded benefits. Earlier this year we slashed student loans’ interest rates to 0% and suspended student loan payments, and Congress extended that policy through Sept. 30. Today I’m extending this policy through the end of the year and will extend it further than that, most likely.” “Mr. President, though, this is expected to be tied up in the courts, so this relief is going to be delayed or blocked —” “Oh I don’t think so — I think this is going to go very rapidly through the courts. This will go very — if we get sued. Maybe we won’t get sued. If we get sued, it’s somebody that doesn’t want people to get money. OK? And that’s going to be a very popular thing.” [crosstalk] “… trying to go around Congress, are you trying to set a new precedent that the president can go around Congress and decide how many —” “You ever hear the word obstruction? They’ve obstructed. Congress has obstructed. The Democrats have obstructed people from getting desperately needed money. Go ahead, please. Right here.” [crosstalk] “No, no, you’re finished. Go ahead, please.” [crosstalk] [cheering] “You said that you passed Veterans Choice. It was passed in 2014 —” “OK, excuse me, go ahead please.” “But it was a false statement, sir.” “OK, thank you very much, everybody. Thank you very much.” [cheering]

President Trump signed four actions on coronavirus relief Saturday after Congress negotiations stalled. It’s unclear what authority he has to do so, and the orders are likely to be challenged in the courts.CreditCredit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Michele Evermore, a senior policy analyst for the National Employment Law Project, projected that at current claims’ rates, the $44 billion would run out in about five or six weeks. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a research organization, also estimated that the money would last just five weeks.

Also, state governors must opt in and request the aid and must agree to distribute it through their regular unemployment insurance system as a supplemental payment. That’s a heavy demand on state systems that are already “stressed to the point of breaking,” Ms. Evermore said.

A FEMA spokeswoman did not answer questions on Sunday about whether any states had contacted the agency to formally seek the federal aid. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said that the president’s executive measures were on “shaky ground legally” and that asking states facing financial crises to increase their unemployment benefit payments is “just laughable.”

FEMA said the program would be applied retroactively to the week ending Aug. 1 and would last until Dec. 6 or until the authorized disaster funding is depleted, whichever comes first.

You would still owe your payroll taxes under the terms of the president’s memorandum, and so would your employer, if you have one. What might change would be when some of the taxes for the period from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31 are due.

If you are not self-employed, what usually happens is that your employer pays half of the 12.4 percent in Social Security payroll taxes that most people owe and then withholds the other half from your paycheck. For the four months that are now in question, the withholding of the employee share — 6.2 percent — would stop, which means you would see more money in your paycheck.

This would only be true, however, for people who earn under $4,000 every two-week pay period, according to the memorandum, or about $104,000 a year. Those who earn more than that would still be subject to withholding, up to the annual limit of $137,700. And because the cap is per individual and not per household, two-income families who are well into the higher income tax brackets might have at least one working adult qualify.

At some point soon, the Internal Revenue Service will presumably issue guidance saying when the money is due, under what the White House is calling a “deferral” of these taxes. But the order also states that the Treasury Department shall “explore avenues, including legislation, to eliminate the obligation to pay the taxes deferred.”

Such a measure would face long-shot odds. Meanwhile, pity the payroll processors who have to interpret the memorandum. Mike Trabold, director of compliance at Paychex, outlined a number of scenarios in an interview. Employers could decide to be conservative and continue to withhold on their employees’ behalf. Or employers could stop withholding the money starting Sept. 1, and let those workers deal with the consequences of potentially owing money later, assuming the taxes eventually come due.

Then, some employers might formally let some employees continue to withhold even if all the other workers are getting the extra money in their paychecks. Or an employer might try to do the reverse — say, give an enraged employee, perhaps one threatening to sue, the opportunity to take home the 6.2 percent extra, even if the company chooses to continue withholding on all other employees’ behalf.

Assuming the income cap is itself legal, Pete Isberg, vice president for government relations at another payroll specialist, ADP, said that employers would need some flexibility. After all, an employee might show up for a new job on Sept. 15 having already earned too much elsewhere to be under the income cap. Other employees have side income throughout the year. Still more of them may simply make adjustments via a W-4 withholding form on their own, no matter what sort of default withholding strategy their employer selects.

The self-employed face their own questions, since they pay both halves of the 12.4 percent. Minnie Lau, a certified public accountant in San Francisco, is keeping her advice simple for most people who do not urgently need the boost in pay. “I am still telling clients not to spend the money, if they’re thinking this will be forgiven,” she said. “Because it literally hasn’t been yet.”

Here, the White House memorandum aims to extend relief by three months.

Under the terms of the CARES Act, the Education Department and its loan servicers put all federal student loan borrowers into administrative forbearance. That means there are no payments due through Sept. 30 on federal loans that the government controls. Interest is not accruing either, though there was no outright loan cancellation associated with the relief. People can keep making principal payments if they choose to.

If the memorandum holds — and it’s not clear who would stand against providing relief to millions of people who borrowed to pay for higher education — the forbearance will last through Dec. 31. The Department of Education has not yet said how it might carry out the memorandum. It has an extensive FAQ page about how pandemic forbearance works (according to the prevailing CARES Act rules) on its website.

The president’s executive order on assistance to renters doesn’t offer much immediate hope for people on the brink of losing their housing.

Until its expiration during the last week of July, an eviction filing moratorium that the CARES Act put into place protected millions of Americans. They included people who lived in public housing, qualified for the Section 8 rental assistance program or rented from landlords with certain kinds of federally backed mortgages.

Now that the federal freeze has expired, those renters have no governmental protection unless state or local officials have put their own moratoriums in place. The order directs various federal agencies to consider what they can do with existing authority or budgets to help further, but immediate relief for desperate renters seems unlikely via this order.

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Without $600 Weekly Benefit, Unemployed Face Bleak Choices

When Latrish Oseko lost her job last spring, government aid helped prevent a crisis from becoming a catastrophe.

A $1,700 federal stimulus payment meant that when her 26-year-old car broke down, she could replace it. The $600 a week in extra unemployment benefits from the federal government allowed her to pay rent and buy food. When her day care provider closed, she was able to get her 4-year-old daughter a subscription to ABCmouse, an online learning app.

But the federal money has run out, and talks in Washington over how to replace it have broken down.

So Ms. Oseko, 39, is spending much of her time sitting in the Delaware hotel room where she has lived since her landlord kicked her out at the end of July, applying for jobs on her phone while watching the debate play out on the local news.

“I’m glued to it because I want to know, is there going to be hope for me?” she said. “They’re fighting, and I have to watch them fight, but they have a place to sleep at night.”

Until a few days ago, most analysts expected Congress to agree on a new emergency spending bill that would include at least a partial extension of the extra unemployment benefits, perhaps including retroactive payments for the period when the program lapsed.

But negotiations stalled, and in an appearance at his golf club in New Jersey on Friday, President Trump said that if no deal was reached, he would issue an executive order extending the extra benefits in some form. It is unclear whether he has the authority to do so, or how long it will take for states to start paying out the benefits if he does.

For many of the 30 million Americans relying on unemployment benefits, it could already be too late to prevent lasting financial harm. Without the extra $600 a week, which ran out at the end of July, they will need to get by on regular state unemployment benefits, which often total a few hundred dollars a week or less. For many families, that will not be enough to prevent eviction, hunger or mounting debt that will make it harder to climb out of the hole.

Households and the broader economy are particularly vulnerable at this moment. Eviction moratoriums are expiring or have expired in much of the country, although Mr. Trump threatened to bypass Congress to reinstate a partial federal moratorium. The Paycheck Protection Program, which helped thousands of small businesses to retain workers, ends this week.

There are already signs that the economy has slowed down this summer as virus cases have surged in much of the country. On Friday, the Labor Department reported a net gain of 1.8 million jobs in July, a smaller increase than in May or June. Many economists warn that layoffs could begin rising again without more government support. Food banks say they are bracing for a new wave of demand.

Before the pandemic, Ms. Oseko and her family were making ends meet, albeit with little margin for error. She earned $15 an hour as a contractor doing data entry. Her boyfriend earned a bit less cleaning dormitories at the University of Delaware. They were able to rent a two-bedroom house near a park where their daughter could play.

When the pandemic hit, Ms. Oseko’s hours were cut and her boyfriend was furloughed. Then, in May, she lost her job altogether. In the midst of that crisis, another one appeared: Their landlord sold her building and gave them 60 days to leave. They moved out last week and are burning through their meager savings at a rate of $76 a night at a Delaware motel that is filling up with families in the same predicament.


Credit…Hannah Yoon for The New York Times

Credit…Hannah Yoon for The New York Times

Without a job, Ms. Oseko hasn’t been able to find a new apartment; without an apartment, it has been hard to find a job.

“The jobs that I am qualified for want me to work from home, but I have no home,” she said.

The economic crisis caused by the pandemic has disproportionately affected low-wage workers like Ms. Oseko who have little in savings. Research from the last recession found that when unemployment benefits ran out, people cut their spending on food, medicine and other necessities, suggesting they were able to do little to prepare for the drop in income.

The more generous benefits offered during this recession may have allowed families to save some money, but those savings won’t last long, particularly when food prices are rising at the fastest pace in years.

As a result, families are being forced to make decisions with lasting consequences.

When Jason Depretis and his fiancée lost their Florida restaurant jobs in early March, they started falling behind on their rent and their car payment. The $600 unemployment supplement was a lifeline, allowing them to hold on to their home and their car. But on July 28, that lifeline snapped: The repo man showed up for the car on the day that their landlord delivered a three-day notice of eviction.

With the extra $600 a week, Mr. Depretis, 42, would probably have been able to pay enough to hold off both creditors. Without it, he had to choose. He paid his landlord $650 to stave off eviction, and watched the car be towed away.

But it was a terrible time to lose the car. He had found a job starting in September at a restaurant, but it is 45 minutes away, and there is no bus service that corresponds with his hours. The closest food bank is 30 minutes away, and he can’t get there without a vehicle. He said he didn’t know how he and his fiancée would put food on the table for themselves and their two children.

“Without the $600, there’s absolutely no way that my family’s going to make it,” he said.

For families like Mr. Depretis’s, even a temporary loss of income can be the start of a downward spiral, said Elizabeth Ananat, a Barnard College economist who has been studying the pandemic’s impact on low-wage workers. Wealthier families may be able to draw on savings to get through until Congress reaches a deal. But for lower-income households, even a temporary lapse in benefits can have lasting consequences. An eviction can make it hard to rent in the future. Having a car repossessed can make it hard to find another job. And for children, periods of hunger, homelessness and stress can have long-term effects on development and learning.

“Children cannot smooth their eating over the year,” Ms. Ananat said. “Families that do not have access to credit cannot smooth their food, their electricity, any of their necessities.”

Many Republicans argue that the extra benefits were keeping recipients from looking for work, especially because many were getting more on unemployment than they had made on the job. Business owners have complained that they are struggling to fill positions.

But several studies have found no evidence that the supplement was discouraging job hunting, and many workers appear to be accepting jobs even when the pay is less than their unemployment benefits. And by injecting billions of dollars into the economy each week, the benefits almost certainly prevented even more layoffs.

The lapse in benefits will push some people to return to work. But that decision, too, can carry costs.

Credit…Philip Cheung for The New York Times

When the pandemic hit, Enrique Guzman, a fleet service clerk at Los Angeles International Airport, was given the choice: to keep working or to stay home and receive a portion of his income, the equivalent of 10 hours a week.

Mr. Guzman, 27, decided to stay home. He has asthma, which puts him at a higher risk of complications if he were to catch the coronavirus, and he lives with his girlfriend and her mother, whose age, 51, makes her vulnerable to the virus. Between unemployment benefits and the partial paychecks from the airline, he was able to bring in $1,050 a week — less than he earned working full time, but enough to support his girlfriend and her mother.

But without the extra money, Mr. Guzman can no longer afford the $1,875 rent for their two-bedroom apartment in Montebello, Calif., plus the cost of utilities, food, and his student and car loan payments.

On Monday, with a sinking feeling in his stomach, he put on his uniform and returned to the airport for his first shift since the pandemic started. Mr. Guzman said he had no other choice.

“It wasn’t something that I wanted to do, but I’m the only income in my household now and I needed to go back to work so we can afford to pay our rent, afford to pay our bills,” he said. “I’m putting myself at risk so that we can afford to stay afloat.”

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Millions of Evictions Are a Sharper Threat as Government Support Ends

For the 108 million people who live in a rental home or apartment, Aug. 1 was a grim milestone. It marked the first time rent was due after much of the nation’s economic response to the coronavirus had expired.

The lapse of expanded unemployment benefits and federal, state and local eviction moratoriums is forcing lawmakers to figure out how to extend those protections. It has also left experts resorting to natural disaster metaphors (“avalanche,” “tsunami”) to describe the scale of potential evictions.

Unlike the U.S. economy, which was enjoying the longest expansion on record, housing — specifically rental housing — was troubled before the virus hit, with problems going back decades. A little under four million evictions are filed each year, one in four tenant households spends about half its pretax income on rent, and each night some 200,000 people sleep in their cars, on streets or under bridges.

Those were the statistics in good times. Now, with unemployment above 10 percent and projected to stay there through at least next year, tens of millions of households could be at risk of eviction in the coming months. Even if only a fraction of those evictions actually take place, it would still be several times the current pace and the biggest disruption in rental housing in decades.

Whatever the final tally, it is increasingly clear that if the Great Recession was personified by empty subdivisions and foreclosed homeowners, the enduring symbol of coronavirus, with its disproportionate impact on hourly workers, is likely to be a laid-off tenant struggling to keep an overcrowded apartment.

“The United States is on the brink of an eviction crisis of unprecedented magnitude,” said Emily A. Benfer, a professor at Wake Forest University School of Law.

That is, of course, a projection — and so far, government efforts to hold back a wave of displacement have been effective. About two-thirds of the workers eligible for extended unemployment protections could make more than they did when they were employed, allowing tens of millions of tenants to shelter in place while paying their monthly bills.

Renters who didn’t receive unemployment pay were largely covered by the various eviction moratoriums that, while not relieving their debts, had at least granted them a reprieve. The federal moratorium alone, passed as part of the CARES Act in March, covered between 28.1 percent and 45.6 percent of rental units.

On Friday, after talks between the Trump administration and Democrats effectively stalled, President Trump threatened to bypass Congress to extend the moratorium.

The moratoriums were supposed to be emergency measures to give tenants some relief until the virus subsided and the economy returned to health.

Except that didn’t happen. The virus continues to surge around the country, and parents are unsure when schools will reopen. Each week more than a million laid-off employees continue to file for unemployment insurance, while temporary layoffs are becoming permanent job losses.

Landlords hold that the most extreme predictions of evictions are overblown. For starters, the limited data available suggests that most tenants have stayed current on their bills. Also, property owners, facing rising vacancies and falling rents, are increasingly working out rent cuts and extended payment plans.

Still, put all the numbers together, and it becomes clear that renters were struggling before the pandemic, they’ve been hit harder by the virus and job losses, and the rental market is likely to be more challenging even after the economy recovers.


Credit…Scott Heins/Getty Images

Credit…Felix Uribe for The New York Times

In the wake of the pandemic, 43 states and Washington, D.C., enacted some kind of eviction moratorium, according to Ms. Benfer. On top of that were various local measures, along with the federal eviction moratorium, which covered subsidized housing and rental properties with loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

While these measures were of varying length and strength — and many, including the federal ban, had little to no enforcement mechanism — together the patchwork served to halt or slow evictions for a majority of renters. Only seven states — Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming — never issued a statewide stay on evictions, and even in those states, the federal rules should have protected at least a third of renter households.

Just as important as those protections were the federal unemployment and stimulus payments. After all, most renters do not have eviction problems if they stay current on their bills, and with help from the $1,200 stimulus payments and $600 in extended unemployment that came with the CARES Act, many of them have.

Benjamin Schenk, a San Diego landlord who operates 30 units in two buildings, is one of the many property owners who have been surprised by the high number of tenants paying their rent in the early months of the pandemic. In March he was talking with his lenders about how he might restructure his loans in anticipation of nonpayments, only to make it to August with payment rates close to 100 percent, which he attributes to the CARES Act.

But people are now falling behind. Though it will take until mid-month to get a true sense of how bad August will be, several tenants who lost their jobs stopped paying rent in the first few days. “The aid that folks are relying on has dried up and not a lot of places are hiring,” Mr. Schenk said.

While there’s no comprehensive data on rent payments, a weekly tracker from the National Multifamily Housing Council that covers about 11 million units has started slipping. In the Census Bureau’s most recent Pulse Survey, for the week of July 16 to 21, just under one in five renters said they were unable to pay July’s rent on time, while one in three were unsure they could make August payments.

The threat to small landlords is also a threat to tenants. About 40 percent of the nation’s 48.2 million rental units are owned by “mom-and-pop” operators who tend to have a limited financial cushion. Since much of the nation’s affordable housing consists of small apartment buildings and single-family homes if these smaller landlords go under many of their units could be “lost.” Some would become owner-occupied housing. Others will get acquired by larger investors who plan renovations and rent increases — compounding a longstanding affordable housing shortage.

Evictions, meted out by local courts, are difficult to tally nationwide. For now, new filings are depressed compared with historical averages, according to a survey of a dozen cities by Princeton University’s Eviction Lab. But they have resumed around the country, and are likely to grow.

There is a difference between an eviction filing, which is the start of a legal process, and an actual eviction, in which a tenant is removed. According to Eviction Lab, there were 3.7 million such filings in 2016, about one million of which led to an eviction — a figure that undercounts displacement.

Many tenants leave after a threat of eviction or the first sign of a filing. Others leave after a landlord turns off utilities or changes the locks. Even for tenants who are never taken from their home by a sheriff, behind every filing is severe stress and tattered credit that makes it harder to find a new place. Beyond that is the uncountable number of families whose rent was raised beyond their means and who left before missing a payment.

So even if there are only a million formal evictions a year, the number of people who are displaced is probably several times that, and likely to grow.

While homelessness would almost certainly increase with a spike in evictions, this doesn’t necessarily mean shelters will fill up or encampments will pop up on every street. Tenants, in particular, families, often exhaust every available option — living in weekly hotels and illegal garages, staying with friends or piling in with multiple roommates — before they end up in the shelter system or the streets.

Steve Noggle, 43, was evicted from his apartment in Annville, Pa., this week. He received just five weeks of extended unemployment benefits even though he lost his restaurant job four months ago. He has been sleeping on his sister’s couch since Monday. “I don’t like having to be here, it’s a burden on everybody, especially because I can’t contribute anything financially,” he said. “I’m just hoping I can get a job as soon as possible.”

Gillian Friedman contributed reporting.

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Landlords Jump the Gun as Eviction Moratorium Wanes

The four-month pause that has protected millions of Americans from eviction cases is set to expire at the end of this week. But that hasn’t stopped landlords across the country from trying to get a head start forcing renters out.

Landlords in Tucson, Ariz., filed dozens of eviction cases last month despite the federal moratorium, which was put in place because of the coronavirus crisis. Legal aid lawyers had to go to court to stop the eviction of a San Antonio renter who had lost her job during a citywide stay-at-home order. And in Omaha, a court found that a struggling renter’s attempted eviction had violated the emergency law.

As the number of Covid-19 cases has surged across the country, a disturbing trend has emerged: landlords commencing eviction proceedings even though the CARES Act relief law currently protects about 12 million tenants living in qualifying properties.

Yolanda Jackson, a special-education paraprofessional in the DeKalb County schools outside of Atlanta, lost her job in March when the schools shut down. Ms. Jackson, a mother of two, has yet to receive an unemployment check, despite confirmation that she was approved, and hasn’t been able to pay her rent. A charitable organization agreed to cover her missed payments, but so far the manager of her complex, LaVista Crossing Apartments, hasn’t sent the necessary documentation to accept it.

“I have tried everything in my power not to get to this point,” Ms. Jackson said. “I’ve been here seven years, and they will not work with me. I am just stressed out and trying to hold it together.”

She received an eviction notice in late June, and the manager said in a court filing that the property wasn’t covered by the federal moratorium. But on Tuesday, lawyers for Legal Aid in Atlanta decided to take her case after finding that the complex is in fact listed as having a federally backed mortgage — making it covered by the CARES Act moratorium.

Credit…Melissa Golden for The New York Times

Lawyers for LaVista Crossing did not respond to messages seeking comment.

At least two other residents of the apartment complex have been served with eviction notices for nonpayment, said Lindsey Siegel with Atlanta Legal Aid. “Many Legal Aid clients are facing evictions simply because their unemployment benefits haven’t come through,” she said.

State and local governments have also issued eviction moratoriums, but the CARES Act is the furthest reaching, covering as many as 12.3 million renters living in an apartment complex or single-family home financed with a federally backed mortgage. But like other moratoriums, it’s about to expire: After Friday, landlords can begin filing eviction notices for failure to pay rent. It will be at least 30 days after that before any tenants are kicked out.

The moratorium has been a lifeline for millions of unemployed people, allowing renters waiting on slow-to-arrive aid to stay in their homes and make up the payments later.

But the far-ranging and hastily assembled CARES Act — which, among things, had provisions for direct relief payments, a temporary expansion of unemployment insurance and hundreds of billions of dollars in small-business aid — does not penalize landlords who violate the moratorium.

Paula Cino, a vice president for policy and government affairs at the National Multifamily Housing Council, a landlord group, said there had been some legitimate confusion at the outset with the federal moratorium and local and state eviction pauses.

“That said, I wouldn’t minimize the fact that there is the potential for bad actors in this space,” she said. “Even if they weren’t initially taking advantage of the system, they have the responsibility to better understand.”

Once an eviction case enters the legal system, it can have lasting consequences: Even a wrongfully filed action can be difficult to remove from court records and keep turning up when renters go through background checks.

“An eviction judgment stays on a tenant’s credit report for seven years, is grounds for wage garnishment and makes it more difficult for a tenant to find future housing,” said Stacy Butler, a law professor at the University of Arizona who has been tracking violations of the CARES Act.


Credit…Melissa Golden for The New York Times

Credit…Melissa Golden for The New York Times

The scope of the problem is elusive. Wrongly evicted renters might not bother trying to challenge their landlords, sometimes because of their immigration status, or because they do not know they have the right.

But wrongful evictions have been reported across the country. The Private Equity Stakeholder Project, a consumer advocacy group, found more than 100 filings in apparent violation of the CARES Act in Arizona, Texas, Florida and Massachusetts.

And in a survey of 100 legal aid lawyers in 38 states, by the National Housing Law Project, all but nine said they knew of attempts at illegal evictions in their cities. The problem prompted the group to create a draft complaint to challenge a violation of the CARES Act moratorium.

Judges have been troubled, too. The Texas Supreme Court issued a statewide order on Tuesday requiring landlords to certify whether the CARES Act applies to an eviction case, and Arizona’s Supreme Court took a similar action earlier this month.

Lawmakers in Washington are debating another relief law — including possible stimulus payments, aid for governments and schools, and a decision on what to do about the extra $600 weekly unemployment benefit — and housing advocates want it to have more help for renters.

The landlord group is in favor of help for tenants, too. The National Multifamily Housing Council said it favored the creation of an emergency rental assistance program of up to $100 billion. But the organization opposes a “protracted extension of a federal eviction moratorium.”

If the moratorium is extended in another relief bill — it is part of the $3 trillion package passed by House Democrats — there are calls from housing advocates to give it enough teeth to keep landlords from trying to skirt the rules.

“There should also be clearly delineated enforcement mechanisms and steep penalties for landlords who flout the law,” said Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, which has set up a webpage to help tenants determine if their rental is covered by the CARES Act.


Credit…Melissa Golden for The New York Times

Nelson Mock, an attorney with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, said lawyers across Texas had seen “landlords trying to sidestep the issue.”

Juanita Herrera DeLeon, 57, who lost her job in March during San Antonio’s stay-at-home order, had to fend off an eviction attempt despite the CARES Act moratorium.

Soon after Ms. DeLeon lost her job, the manager of her apartment complex, the Olmos Club Apartments, tried to lock her out by installing a device on her doorknob. It was removed after she complained to the police, but she said the complex had tried other tactics to get her to leave, like posting on her front door a three-day notice to vacate the premises.

That was when she sought help from RioGrande Legal Aid. In a statement filed with her lawsuit, she said the property manager “did not leave me anything in writing about locking me out” before the first attempt.

The suit was recently settled; Mr. Mock said he was not permitted to discuss the terms.

Jason Adelstein, a lawyer for the Olmos Club Apartments, said, “The dispute was settled between the parties, my client denies any wrongdoing, and due to the terms of the settlement agreement between the parties there can be no further comment.”

The issue of CARES Act violations may be worst in Arizona.

In June alone, at least 80 eviction proceedings that were started in the local courts in Pima County appeared to violate the CARES Act, according to research by a team that included Ms. Butler, the law professor in Tucson. Many were filed by small landlords, and it’s hard to know whether the filings were intentional or a mistake, she said.

One property owner, however, was responsible for filing more than a dozen cases against residents of the Cordova Village apartment complex on Tucson’s south side.

The landlord, Equilibrium Properties, which operates several apartment buildings in Tucson and Washington, D.C., said in an emailed statement that the eviction filings had been made in error. The company, which received at least $150,000 under the Paycheck Protection Program established by the CARES Act, said it had moved to vacate the proceedings and was “rescinding all notices for nonpayment that have been given to tenants.”

“Moving forward,” the company said, “we will take every effort to comply with the CARES Act.”

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10 Steps to Take to Try to Prevent Your Own Eviction

If you have a mortgage and can’t afford to pay it because of fallout from the coronavirus, you may be able to push off your payments for several months, or even into next year. But if you’re struggling to pay your rent, your options are probably much more limited.

Local, state and federal governments have laid out a patchwork of programs to pause certain eviction proceedings, but some of those have already expired — and one eviction protection component set out in the CARES Act is scheduled to expire by July 25.

Without continued regional action or new help from Congress, a spike in evictions may soon be upon us. The Covid-19 Eviction Defense Project in Denver estimates that between 19 million and 23 million — one in five of the 110 million Americans who live in rental housing — are at risk of eviction by the end of September.

But as harrowing as eviction is, it’s a process that plays out over weeks, at a minimum. And at nearly every point along the way, it may be possible to stop it.

Most people who have never experienced eviction aren’t aware of their local rules, which can be complex and differ widely from place to place. And then there’s the tangle of stopgap federal efforts that may be extended or resurrected over the course of the crisis.

If you’re having trouble paying your rent, your situation might feel hopeless. It may not be — and experts have these suggestions for what to know and what to do.

If you’ve lost your job or part of your income, your instinct may be to avoid your landlord. But it’s probably better to make contact and explain what’s going on.

“In a couple of groups I’ve been part of where landlords have been present, they’ve complained that they’ve reached out to tenants and aren’t getting responses,” said Abigail Staudt, managing attorney of the housing practice at the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland. “Many of them — not all — are compassionate and are ready and willing to work with tenants.”

If you’re going to pay late, not pay in full or pay nothing, landlords will find that out soon enough anyway, she added. Being upfront might pay off later.

Often, tenants receive that first notice from a landlord, assume that there is no fixing the problem, and decide that they should pack up and move. “People often confuse the first step in the process with the last step,” said Zach Neumann, founder of the Covid-19 Eviction Defense Project.

In fact, in most areas, you don’t have to move until there has been some sort of legal finding against you and an officer of the law arrives to carry out any order of eviction. That means there may be time for you to figure out a solution that doesn’t require you to move at all.

You probably do not have the right to a lawyer if a landlord brings an eviction action against you (although there are a few notable exceptions, like in San Francisco and for some families in Cleveland). But you can retain one anyway, and possibly for little cost.

Contacting your local Legal Aid office is a good start. An organization called Just Shelter also has a nationwide map on its website with links to other local organizations that may be able to help.

Merely retaining a lawyer may make landlords more likely to negotiate. That’s because it could signal that their own legal fees are about to go up. A number of reports have pointed to improved (or at least non-worst-case-scenario) outcomes for tenants who have counsel.

Even if you’re not able to fend off eviction, Ms. Staudt said, a lawyer may be able to negotiate more time for you to find a new place.

The company or person tacking notices to your door does not inspire much sympathy. Still, landlords have to pay utilities, taxes, maintenance and insurance, too.

And this is one of the few areas of consumer life where you alone may be the source of a significant percentage of someone else’s income.

It might help in any communication to acknowledge this. Small-scale landlords own more than half the housing stock that rents for less than $750 per month, noted Whitney Airgood-Obrycki, research associate at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. If they go into foreclosure or have to sell, even less sympathetic owners might replace them.

“If we lose them, we risk losing a big source of affordable housing,” she said. Perhaps if you acknowledge your own landlord’s contribution in this way (and your desire to keep landlords solvent, if your own seems to be in jeopardy), you could get a more sympathetic ear.

You do not get what you do not ask for. So talk to your landlord. There are different ways to reduce your costs: waiving rent, reducing rent or using a security deposit in lieu of your payment.

A survey by Apartment List, the real estate listing site, found a bit of decent news. As of June, 39 percent of people not paying rent in full reported that their landlord had made some kind of concession. That figure had fallen from 45 percent in April, but it’s still worth asking for new terms.

Depending where you live and the details of the mortgage for the property you occupy, you might be protected from eviction, at least for now. Some landlords who have themselves put their mortgages into forbearance cannot evict tenants while they’re also skipping payments.

A database of addresses that the National Low Income Housing Coalition created may help some renters figure out if their landlord must comply with the various federal rules. This is another area where a lawyer can help, since the rules can be complicated and some landlords don’t know them — or ignore them.

Some state and local officials have put their own eviction restrictions into place. These efforts are listed on the websites for Eviction Lab and Regional Housing Legal Services.

Emily Benfer, a law professor at Wake Forest School of Law, has also assembled a large amount of helpful information on local actions, with the help of many law and public health students. It’s collected in a publicly available Google spreadsheet.

Rental assistance programs exist, although high demand has depleted some of them.

Still, it’s worth seeking the help out if you need it. The National Low Income Housing Coalition maintains a list of programs on its website.

Also, keep checking back. Any new federal relief bill could provide additional money.

Things may not go your way. The Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond, a founder of both Just Shelter and Eviction Lab, saw it happen while researching his book “Evicted.”

He suggested a couple of tactics. First, make a plan for where you might go if you lose your housing. Ask family and friends for help well ahead of time.

Then stay in your current home as long as you legally can. “You might as well wait for the sheriff to come and force you out,” he said.

Nobody knows what will happen in Washington. Many lawmakers agree that another relief package is necessary, but what it will look like and when it will arrive are anyone’s guess.

In the meantime, tenants should pay as much as they can for as long as they can — and cross their fingers that more help arrives, said Norrinda Brown Hayat, associate clinical professor of law at the Newark campus of Rutgers School of Law.

“Everything is ‘If, then, but,’” she said. “People want to have certainty, but there is none. We just don’t have it yet.”

Jaffe S. Pickett, executive director of Florida Rural Legal Services, said collecting yourself and responding quickly to the threat of eviction isn’t easy, given everything that renters may be up against right now.

“People are coming home from one job, trying to get the kids to Grandma’s,” she said. “With schools and summer programs closed, it all becomes more of a burden.”

This pandemic compounds poverty or causes it outright. If you know someone is in trouble, try to help that person head it off as quickly as possible.

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‘They Just Dumped Him Like Trash’: Nursing Homes Evict Vulnerable Residents

On a chilly afternoon in April, Los Angeles police found an old, disoriented man crumpled on a Koreatown sidewalk.

Several days earlier, RC Kendrick, an 88-year-old with dementia, was living at Lakeview Terrace, a nursing home with a history of regulatory problems. His family had placed him there to make sure he got round-the-clock care after his condition deteriorated and he began disappearing for days at a time.

But on April 6, the nursing home deposited Mr. Kendrick at an unregulated boardinghouse — without bothering to inform his family. Less than 24 hours later, Mr. Kendrick was wandering the city alone.

According to three Lakeview employees, Mr. Kendrick’s ouster came as the nursing home was telling staff members to try to clear out less-profitable residents to make room for a new class of customers who would generate more revenue: patients with Covid-19.


Credit…Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

More than any other institution in America, nursing homes have come to symbolize the deadly destruction of the coronavirus crisis. More than 51,000 residents and employees of nursing homes and long-term care facilities have died, representing more than 40 percent of the total death toll in the United States.

But even as they have been ravaged, nursing homes have also been enlisted in the response to the outbreak. They are taking on coronavirus-stricken patients to ease the burden on overwhelmed hospitals — and, at times, to bolster their bottom lines.

A Lakeview official said the company’s evictions were appropriate and weren’t an attempt to free space for Covid-19 patients. But similar scenes are playing out at nursing homes nationwide. They are kicking out old and disabled residents — among the people most susceptible to the coronavirus — and shunting them into homeless shelters, rundown motels and other unsafe facilities, according to 22 watchdogs in 16 states, as well as dozens of elder-care lawyers, social workers and former nursing home executives.

Many of the evictions, known as involuntary discharges, appear to violate federal rules that require nursing homes to place residents in safe locations and to provide them with at least 30 days’ notice before forcing them to leave.

While the popular conception of nursing homes is of places where elderly people live, much of their business is caring for patients of all ages and income levels who are recovering from surgery or acute illnesses like strokes. Medicare often pays for short-term rehabilitation stints; Medicaid covers longer-term stays for poor people.

Nursing homes have long had a financial incentive to evict Medicaid patients in favor of those who pay through private insurance or Medicare, which reimburses nursing homes at a much higher rate than Medicaid. More than 10,000 residents and their families complained to watchdogs about being discharged in 2018, the most recent year for which data are available.

The pandemic has intensified the situation.

With nursing homes not allowing visitors, there is less outside scrutiny of their practices. Fifteen state-funded ombudsmen said in interviews that some homes appear to be taking advantage of that void to evict vulnerable residents.

Credit…Andrew Cullen for The New York Times

Many nursing homes are struggling in part because one of their most profitable businesses — post-surgery rehab — has withered as states restricted hospitals from performing nonessential services.

Treating Covid-19 patients quickly became a popular way to fill that financial void.

Last fall, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid changed the formula for reimbursing nursing homes, making it more profitable to take in sicker patients for a short period of time. Covid-19 patients can bring in at least $600 more a day in Medicare dollars than people with relatively mild health issues, according to nursing home executives and state officials.

“They could be big money for nursing homes,” said David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School.

It is not always about the money. Several states, including New York, New Jersey and California, urged nursing homes to accept Covid-19 patients to help relieve pressure on hospitals. Some nursing home employees worried that would endanger their vulnerable residents.

There is no national data on the number of nursing home residents who have been moved into homeless shelters, motels and other facilities. The New York Times contacted more than 80 state-funded nursing-home ombudsmen in 46 states for a tally of involuntary discharges during the pandemic at facilities they monitor. Twenty six ombudsmen, from 18 states, provided figures to The Times: a total of more than 6,400 discharges, many to homeless shelters.

“We’re dealing with unsafe discharges, whether it be to a homeless shelter or to unlicensed facilities, on a daily basis, and Covid-19 has made this all more urgent,” said Molly Davies, the Los Angeles ombudsman, whose office works with residents at about 400 nursing homes.

In Connecticut, a nursing-home resident was told he had less than a week to pack his things and move to a homeless shelter, according to the resident’s lawyer. In Philadelphia, a nursing home planned to discharge a resident with schizophrenia to the city’s office of homeless services, which was closed during the pandemic. A lawyer said she intervened to stop the eviction on the grounds that it was unsafe.


Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

In New York City, the epicenter of the pandemic, nursing homes tried to discharge at least 27 residents to homeless shelters from February through May, according to data from the New York City Department of Homeless Services. Ombudsmen and city officials blocked many of the discharges, which they said were medically unsafe.

But those figures are most likely a dramatic undercount. “What we’re seeing is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Susan Dooha, executive director of Center for Independence of the Disabled, a nonprofit group that is the home of the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program in New York City.

Traditionally, ombudsmen would regularly go to nursing homes. In March, though, ombudsmen — and residents’ families — were required to stop visiting. Evictions followed.

“It felt opportunistic, where some homes were basically seizing the moment when everyone is looking the other way to move people out,” said Laurie Facciarossa Brewer, a long-term care ombudsman in New Jersey.

Nursing homes are allowed to evict residents if they aren’t able to pay for their care, are endangering others in the facility or have sufficiently recovered. Under federal law, before discharging patients against their will, nursing homes are required to give formal notice to the resident and to the ombudsman’s office. They must also find a safe alternative location for the resident to go, whether that is an assisted living facility, an apartment or, in rare circumstances, a homeless shelter.

But some homes have figured out a workaround: They pressure residents to leave. Many residents assume they have no choice, and the nursing homes often do not report them to ombudsmen.

That is what David Mellor said happened to him. Mr. Mellor, 54, was recovering from spinal surgery that left him numb from the neck down at a nursing home in Fremont, Calif. In April, Mr. Mellor said, the staff at the Windsor Park Care Center, an 85-bed facility, told him that he had to go to a hotel to clear the way for coronavirus patients. Mr. Mellor, who had been trying to arrange long-term housing, felt he had no choice and agreed to leave.

“I saw what was going on,” Mr. Mellor said. “They were forcing people out.” At the Radisson Hotel in Oakland, which was being used to house the homeless, Mr. Mellor said there was no one to help him learn to walk again or to assist him with the medications he takes to control his blood sugar and pain.

A spokesman for the Windsor Park Care Center declined to comment. It is part of a chain owned by Lee Samson, a major fund-raiser for President Trump. “Whatever my political affiliation, Windsor’s commitment to protecting its residents will never be compromised,” Mr. Samson said.

Nursing home evictions can be disruptive and dangerous during normal times — and even more so during a pandemic that preys on the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions.

In March, seven groups that represent nursing home residents wrote to New York’s health department, urging it to stop nursing homes from evicting residents because they are “particularly vulnerable to the Covid-19 virus.” Such discharges, especially to homeless shelters, they wrote, “pose particular public health risks, due to the close living quarters in shelters.” The letter also warned that sending patients from nursing homes — hotbeds of the coronavirus — into the community could hasten the spread of the disease.

Advocates for nursing home residents have also urged California’s health department to halt evictions.

While at least four states have restricted nursing homes from evicting patients during the pandemic, New York and California have not. Some companies appear to be taking advantage.

In California, Rockport Healthcare Services, which manages the state’s largest chain of for-profit nursing homes, has repeatedly been cited by state regulators for illegal evictions.

  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 16, 2020

    • I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

      The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • Will protests set off a second viral wave of coronavirus?

      Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases. While many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, they urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread of the virus. Some infectious disease experts were reassured by the fact that the protests were held outdoors, saying the open air settings could mitigate the risk of transmission.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.