‘How Am I Going To Make It?’ Months of Eviction Uncertainty Are Taking a Toll on Millions of Families
Nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Marlenis Zambrano is out of money. A 48-year-old single mother in Virginia, she tried her best to get by after being furloughed from her Defense Department daycare job in March by selling homemade face masks and empanadas to help support her two dependent children, both in college. She twice applied for housing relief from Arlington County, but was denied because, at the time, she had $5,000 in savings intended for her daughter’s tuition. With that money long gone, Zambrano is living off her credit card, racking up $5,000 in charges to pay for her Arlington, Virginia apartment. If she stops paying rent, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s evictions moratorium, enacted earlier this month, should help keep her and her family housed at least until 2021. But with debt piling up and no further financial relief in sight, she feels the CDC rule has merely delayed the inevitable. “You close one hole, but you open many,” says Zambrano, of trying to keep up with her bills. “We don’t know how we’re going to get out of this situation if I don’t get back to work.” Under the CDC moratorium, which superseded a patchwork of state eviction orders, families like the Zambranos can submit a pandemic hardship declaration to their landlords, which can block eviction for nonpayment of rent until the end of the year. The rule has postponed the imminent threat of eviction for up to 40 mill...
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