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Wednesday, Jul 1, 2020

* This is, without a shadow of a doubt, a looming nightmare perhaps unlike anything we’ve ever seen

As the United States continues to face record unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic, 30% of Americans missed their housing payments in June, according to a survey by Apartment List, an online rental platform.

That’s up from 24% who missed their payment just two months earlier in April and about on par with the 31% who missed payments in May. Renters, younger and lower-income households and urban dwellers were the groups most likely to miss their housing payments, Apartment List found.

At the same time that this “historically high” rate of Americans are missing their housing payments, eviction protections put in place at the beginning of Covid-19′s spread in the U.S. are beginning to expire. Additionally, the current 30 million unemployed Americans will lose the extra $600 per week in federal unemployment benefits at the end of July.

Taken together, experts warn of a coming housing “apocalypse” unless the government intervenes. Some 37% of renters and 26% of homeowners are at least somewhat worried that they will face eviction or foreclosure in the next six months, Apartment List reports. Columbia University researchers estimate that homelessness could increase by between 40% and 45% this year over where it was in January 2019.

* And while I cannot begin to fathom the desperation among those who are piling up debt to their landlords or banks, this is just irresponsible reporting and encouraging hope where none actually exists

Housing advocates fear eviction boom, urge Gov. Pritzker to cancel rent, mortgage payments

Housing advocates Tuesday taped notices demanding rent payments within five days on the gate of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s home in the Gold Coast in hopes of drawing attention to what they say is an imminent housing crisis.

In a twist, the notices were addressed to the “renters of Illinois” and listed Pritzker as the “landlord or landlord’s agent,” with service on behalf of the real estate lobby.

The group posted the notices while calling on the first-term governor to cancel rent and mortgage payments and to lift the ban on rent control because so many people are out of work due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, said Rod Wilson, one of the organizers of the Lift the Ban Coalition. The group’s efforts took place the day before the first of the month, which is typically when renters have to pay rent.

“All we’re saying is sign the paper, cancel the rent, cancel the mortgage, put a regulation on rent increases. That’s all we’re asking for,” Wilson said. “Otherwise, he’s going to be known as the billionaire governor that led us into the worst housing crisis ever. And I say, ‘Shame on you.’ ”

No governor can simply make rent and mortgage payments go away on his or her own. None. And I don’t know how it would be constitutional for the General Assembly to do it, either. And yet, that’s not even hinted at in the story. All the Sun-Times did was perpetuate a really way out-there myth, which means even more people will believe this tale.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

54 Comments
  1. - fs - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:03 am:

    == And I don’t know how it would be constitutional for the General Assembly to do it, either==

    It wouldn’t be. In the best case scenario it would be tied up in the courts for years, when better ways to address it could be pursued.


  2. - hisgirlfriday - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:06 am:

    How much of the lack of payments for housing is folks genuinely lacking funds to make those payments vs. those renters/homeowners not making payments bc they know there is a pandemic moratorium on evictions and other forms of debt collection?

    I am pretty sure a lot of sophisticated commercial real estate folks are making that calculation to not pay rents right now.


  3. - Eloy - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:06 am:

    It’s the “all we’re saying” that makes it art.


  4. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:14 am:

    I definite understand the struggles and feel for those struggling, but “canceling rent” and even mortgages has the real potential of simply shifting the hardships. A lot (maybe even most) of landlords are small operators and mom and pop types of people that do not have big cash reserves. If we are going t do something it needs to be federal money direct to people versus banks.


  5. - DuPage Saint - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:16 am:

    Not that the state has any money but perhaps the state or feds could be a lender to tenants and mortgagors so they could make payments to landlords and banks and then get paid back over time. I will never think it fair to force a small landlord into carrying a renter for nothing while real estate taxes utility bills and other costs go on.


  6. - JJJJJJJJJJ - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:20 am:

    @hisgirlfriday

    -The vast majority of Americans live paycheck to paycheck

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2019/01/11/live-paycheck-to-paycheck-government-shutdown/#73da7f1f4f10

    -The vast majority of Americans lack significant savings

    https://www.cnbc.com/2020/01/21/41-percent-of-americans-would-be-able-to-cover-1000-dollar-emergency-with-savings.html

    That was true before the massive COVID-19 caused unemployment. This is a huge issue make no mistake. It’s not just people not paying rent for kicks. That also makes no sense because they know it will be due eventually.

    You’re no better than the people advocating for a magical cancellation if you come up with b.s. theories about people choosing not to pay rent.


  7. - Steve Rogers - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:21 am:

    JS Mill is right at least with my own situation (not that it’s the same case everywhere else). I have a small building rented to commercial businesses. One had to close and the other was sort of open. Both continued to make rent, but if they hadn’t, it would have consumed pretty much all of my cash reserves to pay the mortgage and RE taxes. That would then cause deferred maintenance on the roof, which is in need of replacement, and a few other things. I’m lucky, but I can see the avalanche to others who may not have the cash reserves and tenants who were able to continue paying.


  8. - Cool Papa Bell - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:24 am:

    Out of work folks are getting an extra $600 a week right now. MOST but certainly not all of those out of work have been able to file for and receive benefits.

    I’m just wondering why this emergency is happening right now and not a few more months down the road when the $600 a week ($2400 a month) runs out and long term unemployment sets in.

    I’m trying to understand here - but $2400 extra a month for the past three months aught to be enough to cover those expenses and allow you to save some for the next few months. I’ve got a big heart but I feel that as mentioned above there are more than a few people deciding to do something else with their money or feeling empowered to not send it to a landlord - and that is wrong.


  9. - City Zen - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:24 am:

    “All we’re saying is sign the paper…”

    Never sign a Faustian bargain unless there’s a fiddle of gold at stake.


  10. - SSL - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:28 am:

    The sad reality is that Mom’s basement is going to get crowded again. And it’s going to stay that way for awhile.


  11. - @misterjayem - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:32 am:

    “The vast majority of Americans live paycheck to paycheck *** You’re no better than the people advocating for a magical cancellation if you come up with b.s. theories about people choosing not to pay rent.”

    Hisgirlfriday explicitly referred to “sophisticated commercial real estate folks,” not people living paycheck to paycheck.

    – MrJM


  12. - JJJJJJJJJJ - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:33 am:

    @JS Mill

    I get what you are saying, but the difference is that those landlords made an investment. That’s what being a landlord is. And that investment involves risk. At stake for the landlord is their investment, but at stake for the renter is their home.

    So, it seems to me a no-brainer as to who to bail out here. But, obviously I understand the legal constraints.


  13. - JJJJJJJJJJ - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:36 am:

    @Misterjayem

    I was responding more to:

    “How much of the lack of payments for housing is folks genuinely lacking funds to make those payments vs. those renters/homeowners not making payments bc they know there is a pandemic moratorium on evictions and other forms of debt collection?”

    It is overwhelmingly the former.


  14. - Just Me 2 - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:36 am:

    ===All we’re saying is sign the paper, cancel the rent, cancel the mortgage, put a regulation on rent increases.===

    Oh, that’s all you’re saying? Sure, it’s that easy. Okay.


  15. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:43 am:

    ==“All we’re saying is sign the paper, cancel the rent, cancel the mortgage, put a regulation on rent increases.”==

    Love the “All we’re saying is…” preface. Guy doesn’t ask for much, does he? What a loon, this why lots of people can’t take activists seriously. “All we’re saying is stop winter from happening, buy us a spaceship, invent a time machine. Otherwise you’re just a failed billionaire governor.”


  16. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:55 am:

    === why lots of people can’t take activists seriously===

    I don’t disagree, but my real problem here is that the Sun-Times basically behaved like a Facebook commenter by running that goofy story.


  17. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 12:06 pm:

    == At stake for the landlord is their investment, but at stake for the renter is their home. ==

    Actually, I’m sure a number of small mom and pop landlords leveraged their home for the down payments on their rental property. And they depend on the rental cash flow to pay off those mortgages. I know that is how I managed to hang on to a house I used to rent out. So, yes, the small landlords may be in danger of losing their homes also.


  18. - Vader - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 12:10 pm:

    As others have noted,the landlords have expenses too and they rely on the rent to pay their bills. Why do these people think the government should dictate that they must allow people to occupy their properties for free?


  19. - Fly like an eagle - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 12:15 pm:

    The federal government can make a low interest loan to landlords who are willing to talk to their tenants and work out a payment plan. 30% is a lot of Americans and Covid -19 is not done yet.


  20. - City Zen - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 12:19 pm:

    ==And that investment involves risk==

    Risk which is offset by a short-term lease with specific payment terms that, when not met, mitigates said risk. Without these measures, the aforementioned rent would have been much higher.

    Risk is going to be mitigated one way or another.


  21. - Chatham Resident - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 12:19 pm:

    Love the “All we’re saying is…” preface. Guy doesn’t ask for much, does he? What a loon, this why lots of people can’t take activists seriously. “All we’re saying is stop winter from happening, buy us a spaceship, invent a time machine. Otherwise you’re just a failed billionaire governor.”

    1970: “All [we are] saying, is Give Peace a Chance.”

    2020: “All [we are] saying, is Cancel the Rent.”

    I wonder if the latter slogan will eventually be put to music a la John Lennon nearly 50 years ago.


  22. - Fly like an eagle - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 12:22 pm:

    All were saying is “let’s get those money printing presses a rollin’.


  23. - Betsy - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 12:25 pm:

    I’m not sure how anyone who believes in social equity could stand by and watch thousands of Americans get evicted from their homes through no fault of their own. Maybe a state or Chicago social justice fund can be established to make sure that these low income renters receive temporary economic support to avoid this eviction wave? If we can do it to provide broadband to low income families attending Chicago’s public schools, why not create a similar rent payment fund?


  24. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 12:26 pm:

    ===fund can be established===

    There is one.


  25. - Chatham Resident - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 12:28 pm:

    I’m surprised that the “Rent is Too High” politician from New York (from the early 2010s) hasn’t made a cameo appearance at any of the Chicago rent/mortgage protests. Anyone know what he’s up to these days?


  26. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 12:31 pm:

    ===All the Sun-Times did was perpetuate a really way out-there myth, which means even more people will believe this tale.===

    Reporting means telling facts to thoughts as well.

    No different than the dorm room thinking we see here at times with comments, not by reporters, but by commenters wishing and hoping without knowing 60 and 30, or recognizing the legal means, yeah, they ain’t there for your thought or wish.

    Fundamentals to anything, really, begin and and end the truths and facts we know and we build upon those fundamentals to find a change, a difference, a way to make things better… but having an honesty to an end, and the means honest to that path.

    It’s crushing when I read things lost upon fundamental truths.

    You can want, or even opine and report on anyone’s want… but there’s a reckoning with truth, when ignored… “what are we really talking about” is the only response I see… honest… to the fairy tales.


  27. - All this - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 12:32 pm:

    == Why do these people think the government should dictate that they must allow people to occupy their properties for free?==
    Sorry toots. Folks are already occupying property for free, that’s what not paying the rent means. Question is what are we going to do about it? 30% of Americans missed their payment. That means more than 30% of Americans would be homeless if evicted since children don’t make housing payments.You think living in a country with a substantial amount of homeless people will do good things for the economy?


  28. - Quibbler - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 12:34 pm:

    == No governor can simply make rent and mortgage payments go away on his or her own.==

    There’s legal analysis to the contrary. Let’s let JB act and have a court tell us who’s right. Better yet, make it a legislative priority with the GA.

    == All the Sun-Times did was perpetuate a really way out-there myth, which means even more people will believe this tale.==

    Ridiculous. Activists are petitioning the governor over an issue. The press is rightly covering it. You’re advocating suppression of a newsworthy protest and a worthy cause. If you think the activists and/or the cause of affordable housing is misguided, write an op-ed about it.


  29. - yinn - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 12:35 pm:

    ==All were saying is “let’s get those money printing presses a rollin’.==

    Yes, that’s what fiat currency is all about — which is why we can curtail suffering via recessions and depressions whenever we manage to summon the political will.

    Or would we prefer to exponentially increase homelessness during a pandemic?


  30. - BilboSwaggins - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 12:41 pm:

    -The sad reality is that Mom’s basement is going to get crowded again. And it’s going to stay that way for awhile.-

    Not if mom doesn’t have a basement anymore it’s not. Don’t know where you’re getting the idea that this is a young person’s problem but my mom is in her 60s and she might not have work for long.

    If I ever go back to mom’s house, it’s because I am going to be supporting her. I know 10-12 other people in my age group for whom this is also true.


  31. - V-M - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 12:41 pm:

    I guess we are going to quickly find out if BLM is more than just a slogan.


  32. - JJJJJJJJJJ - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 12:48 pm:

    I have no doubt that there are mom and pop landlords who stand to lose a great deal. And certainly a mutually beneficial solution is desired. Hopefully the roughly $400 million the GA gave to IHDA will be that solution.

    All I’m saying is that in order to be a landlord that suggests a certain degree of wealth and financial flexibility that the vast majority of Americans do not have.

    I thus find it somewhat disingenuous to paint renters and landlords as being on the same level of precariousness.

    I find this particularly disingenuous because it is often used as a reason not to help renters on the brink of homelessness.


  33. - Quibbler - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 12:52 pm:

    The problem with the position that protesters’ demands shouldn’t be covered if they appear crazy or impractical is that many successful social movements start off looking that way. Marriage equality was once a pie-in-the-sky legal impossibility, and the cause of fair housing in 2020 faces far fewer legal impediments than that (notably, neither the OP nor the comments has thus far identified a single specific legal provision that bars what the protesters are demanding).


  34. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 1:04 pm:

    ===There’s legal analysis to the contrary.===

    Ha! Funniest thing I’ve heard all day. You get me the analysis that shows conclusively that a governor can just make rent and mortgage payments magically disappear and I’ll buy you dinner.

    ===You’re advocating suppression of a newsworthy protest===

    Don’t be stupid. I’m advocating for at least bare minimum journalism.


  35. - MakePoliticsCoolAgain - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 1:07 pm:

    States can’t print money like the feds. Without another infusion of cash from the feds, states are pretty much out of money and options. And as Rich rightly points out, the Governor does not have the authority to forgive rent and mortgage payments, either.


  36. - Last Bull Moose - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 1:09 pm:

    Our economy has a web of contracts and cash flows. They are based on the unspoken assumption that tomorrow will be similar to today. COVID 19 has broken that assumption.

    We have seen a huge drop in production. It will take some clear thinking to prevent that loss from pulling down the whole structure.


  37. - mrp - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 1:09 pm:

    Debts that can’t be repaid won’t be repaid. Stephanie Kelton’s excellent book is good reading for unraveling deficit/debt myths.


  38. - Quibbler - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 1:22 pm:

    == You get me the analysis ==

    https://www.ltbcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/An-Assessment-of-State-Laws-Providing-Gubernatorial-Authority-to-Remove-Legal-Barriers-to-Emergency-Response.pdf

    https://www.ltbcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Rent-Control-In-An-Emergency-memo-3.pdf


  39. - fs - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 1:29 pm:

    == ===There’s legal analysis to the contrary.===

    Anyone can find a lawyer to write up an opinion telling them what they want to hear. That doesn’t mean it’s correct. “Letting the courts” decide means likely delaying any relief for years while it works its way to a final disposition. When there are other ways to approach it to actually get money and relief to people, playing this just pass it and let the courts decide” is not looking to get relief to people quick, that’s looking to make a political point.


  40. - fs - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 1:35 pm:

    == Debts that can’t be repaid won’t be repaid.==

    And there’s a proper, constitutional way to account for such debts. Through collections, where a person might be essentially judgment proof and it’s up to the creditor how much money and effort they want to expend to collect, or wiping it out through bankruptcy proceedings. The State cannot do it.


  41. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 1:37 pm:

    Quibbler, that opinion is laughable.


  42. - Miguel - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 1:40 pm:

    This issue is perfect for the Illinois COVID Response Fund. If billionaires can afford $100 million paintings during this pandemic, maybe a a few of the Fund’s benefactors can help pay the rent of some needy Illinoisans and, at the same time, help keep small Illinois landlords afloat? It seems like a win-win.


  43. - Logical Thinker - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 1:42 pm:

    How about a property tax holiday for all landlords on properties where tenants aren’t paying rent?


  44. - A Guy - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 1:49 pm:

    Rent issue is much tougher, but it would seem the mortgage issue could be solved by adding the 3-4 months to the back end of the mortgage?


  45. - Vader - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 1:58 pm:

    All this ===Folks are already occupying property for free, that’s what not paying the rent means.

    There is a difference between payments coming late and payments not coming at all. This group is looking to “cancel” rents, not defer them.


  46. - fs - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 2:06 pm:

    == notably, neither the OP nor the comments has thus far identified a single specific legal provision that bars what the protesters are demanding==

    That’s because many of us probably assumed the fundamentals of the Constitution were generally understood. I guess not.

    For starters, Article I, Section 10, Clause 1 of the US Constitution. Not even the Great Depression courts went as far as saying a State can just pass a broad statute wiping out leases (ie contracts). It won’t happen.


  47. - All this - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 2:31 pm:

    == There is a difference between payments coming late and payments not coming at all.===
    Who says the payments are coming in at all? Do you have access to information nobody else has?


  48. - JJJJJJJJJJ - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 2:50 pm:

    @A Guy

    I may be mistaken but I’m pretty sure all federally backed mortgages do exactly that due to the CARES Act.


  49. - Vader - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 3:21 pm:

    ===Who says the payments are coming in at all? Do you have access to information nobody else has?===

    They may not, but they are still obligations under the lease and debt to the tenant. Eventually they will have to pay or have it discharged in a bankruptcy. The obligation has not been canceled by the government.


  50. - Dotnonymous - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 4:06 pm:

    Contracts shall be honored…in plain English.


  51. - Mama - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 4:20 pm:

    What happens when thousands of people become homeless? There are not enough home-less shelters now.


  52. - All this - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 4:24 pm:

    ==Why do these people think the government should dictate that they must allow people to occupy their properties for free?==
    And == have it discharged in a bankruptcy.==
    Ok so renters are probably going to file chapter 7 not 13. So federal bankruptcy IS the federal government dictating that the renters get the rent for free. So we don’t need the “activists” after all. Well done.


  53. - Flapdoodle - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 4:48 pm:

    =All we’re saying is sign the paper, cancel the rent, cancel the mortgage, put a regulation on rent increases.=

    Oh, and I also want a pony . . . /s

    Okay, it’s an incredibly serious issue that needs immediate attention, but antics like this (amplified by sketchy journalism) won’t get anything done and may even lead to people being dismissive about the crisis.


  54. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 5:14 pm:

    On a serious note, if (emphasis on “if”) this were to be accomplished, it would have to be done at the federal level. A state can’t just wave a wand and tell property owners to give people free housing. There’s no way any state could afford to subsidize rent payments for millions of people. It just isn’t fiscally possible. The only solution I can think of would be for the state to use road money to build tent cities, and I don’t even think that would be legally permissible.


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