Tolemi in 2021

For millions of housing insecure Americans, 2021 holds more fear than promise. As we write this post, the US is seeing over 2,000 deaths every day, higher than any other point during the pandemic. Jobless claims remain stubbornly high. As many as 14 million American households are at risk of eviction with an estimated $25 billion in rental debt. The promise of a vaccine adds some optimism, but realistically the public health and economic climate is not likely to improve in the near future.

Reflecting on Tolemi at the Five-Year Mark

For millions of housing insecure Americans, 2021 holds more fear than promise. As we write this post, the US is seeing over 2,000 deaths every day, higher than any other point during the pandemic. Jobless claims remain stubbornly high. As many as 14 million American households are at risk of eviction with an estimated $25 billion in rental debt. The promise of a vaccine adds some optimism, but realistically the public health and economic climate is not likely to improve in the near future.

Why many are more worried about 2021 than 2020

For millions of housing insecure Americans, 2021 holds more fear than promise. As we write this post, the US is seeing over 2,000 deaths every day, higher than any other point during the pandemic. Jobless claims remain stubbornly high. As many as 14 million American households are at risk of eviction with an estimated $25 billion in rental debt. The promise of a vaccine adds some optimism, but realistically the public health and economic climate is not likely to improve in the near future.

Mom and Pop Landlords

What about the mom-and-pop landlords?

Mom-and-Pop landlords own nearly half of the nations rental units and are often low to median income themselves. They rely on rent payments to maintain the properties, pay the mortgage, and provide income for their families. With tenants unable to pay rent and moratoriums on evictions, their properties, their incomes, and their retirement plans are all at risk. Small scale landlords are also major producers of naturally occurring affordable housing. Concerns are mounting that large investment firms will buy up the rental stock, increase rents, and reduce the supply of affordable housing. Cities need a strategy to protect their mom-and-pop landlords in the coming months.

Small Business Strategy

Economic Development strategies for at-risk small business

Building on our last post about innovative ways local governments are tapping into data provide housing security to at-risk residents, we also wanted to highlight some of the work our partner cities and towns are doing to support small businesses. Tolemi is working with cities to identify small businesses at-risk of displacement from COVID-19, rising real estate prices, expansion of public transit, and other market forces through data modeling and old school surveys. We explore how two cities with vastly different resources, both large and small, are approaching the challenge.

Foreclosure For Sale

Forbearance, foreclosures, and the dangers facing homeowners

The economic peril from COVID-19 has reached nearly every corner of the economy, and the threat of housing insecurity looms ominously on the horizon for millions of Americans. Today we want to focus on the plight of the homeowner, just 12 years removed from the unprecedented 2008 Housing Crisis. In the near-term, temporary measures like stimulus checks, an increase to unemployment insurance, and forgivable small business loans to cover payroll amounted to hundreds of billions of dollars injected directly into the bank accounts of homeowners. For those who lost some or all their income because of COVID-19, these temporary measures provided a lifeline through the spring and summer to continue making mortgage payments. And at the height of the pandemic, many courthouses, where foreclosure notices are be filed, were closed, effectively freezing foreclosure activity entirely. Additionally, on March 18, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) enacted a moratorium on foreclosures for borrowers with mortgages backed by Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSE) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that has subsequently been extended through the end of 2020, protecting 28 million single-family homeowners. FHFA also allows these borrowers the right to request forbearance for a total of 360 days.

Eviction Notice

Housing Support During COVID-19

The current eviction moratorium should be protecting housing insecure residents, but many aren’t aware of their rights. Lacking knowledge and legal representation is resulting in protected individuals being forced from their homes in the middle of a pandemic. On the other side of the transaction are the landlords, 30% of which are low to moderate income themselves. They rely on rent payments to make their own mortgage payments and as a source of income. Many homeowners are also at risk. Increases in foreclosures cost cities money and resources. How are municipalities dealing with these challenges?

Duct Tape

Stop Gap Measures

The economic pain of COVID-19 is widespread, but the scary part is that the worst may be yet to come for our most vulnerable citizens. Temporary measures in the CARES Act and other relief programs that have helped stem waves of evictions, foreclosures, layoffs, and business closures are sunsetting. What are the looming challenges and what can cities be doing today to be prepared for tomorrow?