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Opinion
Noah Smith

Mass Evictions Are a Crisis the U.S. Knows How to Avoid

State and federal governments have spent the past year proving they know how to prevent people from losing their homes. Just keep doing that.

There are alternatives to locking people out of their homes because of late rent.

There are alternatives to locking people out of their homes because of late rent.

Photographer: John Moore/Getty Images 

An “unprecedented” wave of evictions is expected to arrive soon as federal constraints on landlords expire. This isn’t the first time over the past 18 months that the country has been warned of a big eviction spike. But it’s never actually happened so far because, as it turns out, the government knows how to prevent huge numbers of people from being kicked out of their homes.

Exactly one year ago, in late July 2020, warnings of an impending eviction crisis were commonplace. News outlets released maps showing just how many renters were under threat of eviction, with the numbers typically ranging from 30% to 50%. Phrases like “unparalleled magnitude” and “like nothing we’ve ever seen” were thrown around.