ATLANTA – A federal moratorium on evictions that allowed thousands of Georgian families to stay in their homes throughout the pandemic, even though loss of jobs or businesses prevented them from paying, has been a lifeline essential. But this has sometimes been done to the detriment of other Georgians who also live paycheck to paycheck.
Justin Gray, Channel 2 Action News investigative reporter discussed with homeowners facing foreclosure.
When we think of owners, we think of big business or big business. But many are just mom and pop operators. More than a quarter are low income themselves. And they say this tenant assistance has caused them financial hardship.
[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]
âSo they put this moratorium on evictions. But where does that leave you? Gray asked Paxton Baety.
âIn trouble. Because I have to pay for someone to live somewhere,â Baety said.
Baety started with a rental home near his DeKalb County home, then over the years he added two more.
âI painted every house, I laid carpet in every house,â Baety said.
Now that he is struggling to recover from a stroke that affected his speech and mobility, he also faces a loss of most of the rental income he relies on to pay his family’s bills.
âIf I don’t pay my mortgage, I’m left out,â Baety said.
Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, some of its tenants have stopped paying in full while others are paying sporadically.
But taxes on mortgages and utilities are still due each month.
A tenant in a house not only stopped paying last July, but changed the locks.
âMortgage companies don’t give us any leeway. So we have to keep paying, for someone else to live, âBaety said.
Baety estimates he spent around $ 25,000.
For more than a year now, after Congress passed the CARES Act and then a CDC ordinance was put in place, tenants have been protected from eviction during the COVID 19 crisis.
It is estimated that up to 40 million Americans would have risked losing their homes without the eviction ban.
Kristen Broady studies the impact of the economy on everyday Americans as part of Project Hamilton.
His team’s research revealed that small owners of so-called mom and pop have been hurt by the moratorium on evictions.
“If they don’t get that rent, how are they supposed to make up the rest of the money they need to pay their bills and support their own household,” said Broady.
And research from the Hamilton Project found that 30% of homeowners themselves are low- to moderate-income households.
âWhen the tenant is behind on the rent, and there is no subsidy, the landlord can be in danger of foreclosure on the house,â Broady said.
That’s why Baety is trying to sell this house. Because the tenant does not pay anything for almost a year, he is in danger of foreclosure.
“She said to me, I’m not moving, you can’t force me, you can’t kick me out, what are you going to do?” And technically she’s right, I can’t move her, I can’t kick her out, “Baety said.
[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]
Baety sued his tenant virtually over COVID-19.
After several hearings over several months, a judge finally negotiated an agreement for the tenant to leave the house so that the house could be sold.
But with the CDC recently extending the moratorium on evictions until at least June 2021, that won’t help its other properties.
âAnd nobody cares about us. Because even if we receive an article that says you have to go and they don’t, (there is) nothing we can do. And that’s not fair, âBaety said.
The massive COVID-19 relief bill signed by President Biden is still not providing direct help to homeowners. It allocates more than $ 20 billion in emergency rental relief funds to tenants. This money is supposed to be used to pay the rent. So there is hope that will help some homeowners to recover the money owed to them.