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Forthcoming evictions may lead to food insecurity, mental distress


Researchers expect an increase in food insecurity and mental duress sparked by the expiration of the federal moratorium on rental evictions, a study released this week by the UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate indicates.

When the eviction ban went into effect in California in March last year as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, scarce household financial resources in some renter households were redirected to immediate needs, including food and grocery spending, resulting in reduced food insecurity and mental stress—with  larger effects found among Black households, according to the study, “More Than Shelter: The Effects of Rental Eviction Moratoria on Household Well-Being.”

Though the federal eviction moratorium ended on July 31, that federal moratorium was renewed for 60 days under an emergency order issued Aug. 3 by Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The moratorium covers any parts of the country with “high or substantial” COVID-19 transmissibility rates and will run through Oct. 3.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in June to extend the local eviction moratorium through Sept. 30. A statewide moratorium also remains in place through Sept. 30.

In the UCLA study, researchers found that deferral of rents “led to both elevated credit card spending and related debt payoff.” as well as a “small but significant” positive impact on borrowers’ credit scores.

“The expiration of the federal moratorium on rental evictions will leave renters with few protections in the wake of the expected onslaught of eviction cases,” said UCLA Ziman Center Director Stuart Gabriel, one of the authors of the report.

According to the study’s analysis, the eviction moratoria had significant unanticipated salutary effects, including reductions in food insecurity and mental duress during the early waves of the pandemic.

“It is anticipated that these effects will be reversed as current evictions proceed and even as the highly contagious Delta variant requires ongoing social distancing afforded by the moratoria `shelter-in-place,”’ Gabriel said.

The survey indicated that about four in 10 adults in the U.S. Reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder in the wake of onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, up from one in 10 adults who reported these symptoms during the previous year.