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Eviction Deadline Looms for Millions of Tenants With Surging Rent Debt

Robust federal aid for renters was supposed to help prevent a flood of evictions when the moratorium ends. But the government isn’t moving fast enough.

Maricopa County constable Lenny McCloskey evicts an apartment resident for non-payment of rent in Phoenix, Arizona. Provisions during the pandemic have postponed many such evictions, but as the final deadline approaches, many still haven’t received rental assistance to cover mounting rent debt. 

Maricopa County constable Lenny McCloskey evicts an apartment resident for non-payment of rent in Phoenix, Arizona. Provisions during the pandemic have postponed many such evictions, but as the final deadline approaches, many still haven’t received rental assistance to cover mounting rent debt. 

Photographer: John Moore/Getty Images North America

After a year of being unemployed and serving as the primary caretaker for her aging father, Cyndi was relieved when she got a job this spring as a contractor for a major bank. She’ll make $85,000 a year — more than enough to pay her $1,200-a-month rent in Charlotte, North Carolina. But her lease has expired, and her landlord wants her out now.

Cyndi, who asked to be identified only by her first name to avoid jeopardizing her new job, is one of an estimated 10 million renters coming out of the pandemic saddled with thousands of dollars of rent debt. The eviction moratorium kept them in their homes for the worst of the crisis, but as its expiration date looms, the unpaid sum balloons.