Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 16

FEATURE
In Virginia and Maryland, states that lifted their moratoriums on eviction
filings earlier, the problem is already bad. Eviction rates in Virginia, where
laws provide tenants fewer protections, are among the worst in the
nation. Five cities - Richmond, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, and
Chesapeake - rank in the top 10 worst cities in the United States by rate
of evictions, according to Eviction Lab at Princeton University.
"We are in a depression. People don't call it that, but that's what we are
in. And when you have 20 million people out of work nationwide, and
you've got economies shutting down across the board, the nation as a
whole has to face the fact that we are going to have hundreds of thousands of people out of work and on the street," says Johanna Shreve,
chief tenant advocate for the District of Columbia.
Before the pandemic, Washington was already struggling with a crisis
in affordable housing and stark income inequalities between neighborhoods. COVID-19 has only exacerbated those inequalities, which will
make the coming eviction crisis even worse.
"It is scary to think about the failure of our housing policies from the
federal level, particularly, that have underfunded these low-income
programs for years. And now we face the result of this pandemic, and that
alone is going to cause this nation to be in a terrible situation," Shreve says.

DIRE WARNINGS FROM YEARS PAST
The size and scope of the eviction crisis has been a sleeper issue,
despite occasional reports in the media. It is likely worse than most
imagine or the public realizes yet, and worse than policy makers have
acknowledged.
The pain is falling along racial and income lines. One-third of the
District's 280,000 households are reporting a loss of employment
income, according to new high-frequency "pulse" data collected by
the U.S. Census Bureau.
The fallout from the pandemic shutdowns has landed hardest on Black
and Latino workers, who were more likely to work in jobs requiring
physical labor that have been eliminated. The mostly white, collegeeducated office workers who can work by computer and telephone
from home have been largely spared.
Legal services providers in Washington who were watching the unemployment numbers surge in April and May, and seeing a rise in phone
calls from people looking for help, have been raising the alarm for
months about what was coming.
Lower-income and affordable-housing buildings are seeing as many as
60 percent of tenants falling behind on rent. Higher-income Class A and
Class B apartment buildings that cost between $3,000 and $4,000 a
month per unit are seeing delinquencies of as much as 30 percent,
according to local data collected by Shreve.
In normal times, the numbers of people living on the edge in the District
were already high. About 26,000 households were paying more than 50
percent of their income in rent, and 18,000 of those were paying more
than 80 percent of their income in rent. Even a small drop in income, like
working 30 hours a week instead of 40, meant many people didn't have
enough money to pay rent. And once these low-income individuals fall
behind in rent payments, there's no way for them to catch up.
The reality is that without a massive financial bailout for tenants and
landlords - on the order of $60 million to $70 million in Washington,
16

WASHINGTON LAWYER

*

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

Juan Carlos Pineda (left) lost his job in March as a result of the pandemic,
and his wife, Tessy, is on dialysis treatment. The Pinedas, facing eviction, are
being represented by Mel Zahnd (right), staff attorney in the Housing Law
Unit of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia.
D.C., just to start - the legal system cannot and will not prevent
evictions.
"When there's no money to pay the rent, I cannot stop the evictions, and
I just see it coming - hundreds and thousands of calls from people who
face evictions I don't have a legal defense against," says Lori Leibowitz,
managing attorney for housing at the Neighborhood Legal Services
Program in Washington, D.C. "We know it's the calm before the storm
coming. I feel that tension, I feel that anxiety, and the worry hangs over
me every day."
"For a lot of these cases, it's going to be open-and-shut just because the
tenants haven't paid and can't pay. And there's not going to be enough
assistance to pay for them. There's going to be nothing that can be done
for a lot of these people," Leibowitz adds.

BLEAK FUTURE AHEAD
The D.C. Council passed a law in May imposing a ban on evictions until
October. On September 1, the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention imposed a sweeping national eviction moratorium through
the end of 2020 for certain renters.
Even under normal circumstances, by December when the eviction moratorium is scheduled to lift, the backlog of evictions that would have
been pending in court numbered 20,000, according to estimates. Add
in job losses from the pandemic and Census data that shows a monthly
snapshot of 20,000 District residents who could not pay rent, and the
number of likely eviction cases balloons to 40,000. More will follow if the
pandemic and economic shutdowns continue.
"What we have been looking at is the jobless numbers and, of course,
we hear from tenants who lost work for a whole variety of reasons:
They are gig workers, they have not worked enough quarters at their
job to qualify for unemployment, they are paid in cash, they are



Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
Family Law Assistance Network feature
An Avalanche of Evictions feature
Pro Bono Partnerships Forged in Crisis feature
Help for Pro Se Litigants Feature
Qualified Immunity feature
Taking Legal Support to the Streets feature
Taking the Stand Turning off the White Noise of Systemic Racism
Taking the Stand Situational Principles Aren't Really Principles
On Further Review
The Learning Curve
Member Spotlight - A. Benjamin Spencer
Member Spotlight - Amber Harding
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Speaking of Ethics
Disciplinary Summaries
Pro Bono Effect
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 7
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Family Law Assistance Network feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 11
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 12
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - An Avalanche of Evictions feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Pro Bono Partnerships Forged in Crisis feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 20
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 22
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 23
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 24
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Help for Pro Se Litigants Feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 27
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 28
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 29
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Qualified Immunity feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 32
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Taking Legal Support to the Streets feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 35
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 36
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 37
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Taking the Stand Turning off the White Noise of Systemic Racism
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Taking the Stand Situational Principles Aren't Really Principles
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 41
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - The Learning Curve
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Member Spotlight - A. Benjamin Spencer
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Member Spotlight - Amber Harding
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 46
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 47
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 50
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 53
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 54
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 57
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 58
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 59
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 60
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 61
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 62
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 63
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 64
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 65
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 66
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 67
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Cover4
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/novemberdecember2020
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/septemberoctober2020
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/julyaugust2020
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/june2020
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2020
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2020
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2020
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/october2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/julyaugust2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/june2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/June/July2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/March2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/February2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/december2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/November2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september 2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september 2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/july2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/June2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/february2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/december2016
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2016/
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/october2016
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september2016
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com