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Housing

U.S. Renters Could Owe $70 Billion

By January, when the federal eviction moratorium expires, 11.4 million households in the U.S. might be more than three months behind in their rent, or $6,000 each. 

Maricopa County constable Lenny McCloskey evicts an apartment resident for non-payment of rent in Phoenix in October. 

Maricopa County constable Lenny McCloskey evicts an apartment resident for non-payment of rent in Phoenix in October. 

Photographer: John Moore/Getty Images North America

Between past due rent, late fees and unpaid utility bills, Americans may collectively owe $70 billion by January, when the current federal eviction moratorium is set to expire.

Estimates for the nation’s total rent shortfall on Jan. 1 range in the tens of billions of dollars, potentially exceeding the amount of emergency rental assistance that Congress may or may not deliver over the next few weeks. If lawmakers fail to act, the New Year could trigger a long-feared disaster — an avalanche of evictions during the dead of winter, as the pandemic rages.