Lehigh Valley housing advocates fear mass evictions if pandemic moratorium expires on Jan. 1

Written by on December 17, 2020

 Lehigh Valley housing advocates fear mass evictions if the pandemic moratorium expires on Jan. 1

By Ben Stemrich

December 17, 2020

Photo | Ben Stemrich / WLVR

On January 1, a CDC moratorium on evictions will expire. The deadline is creating significant uncertainty for families in the Lehigh Valley, and the organizations getting ready to assist them. 

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Housing advocates are predicting an unprecedented housing crisis if the ban on evictions comes to an end – and past rent comes due.

Marc Rittle, director of New Bethany Ministries in Bethlehem says he’s expecting an avalanche of calls in the new year.

“It’ll probably be January before we start really getting all of those calls and it’s going to be because people are getting locked out of their house…”

New Bethany provides permanent housing for some, just like the sixth street shelter in Allentown. They have a list of between 50 and 100 families already on the waiting list

“People can’t find apartments, and don’t have the jobs they need so they have to stay here. It’s definitely been rough these few months…” said shelter director Kristine Blasco.

And tenants aren’t the only ones impacted by the moratorium, David Berger, an local attorney with Norris Mclaughlin says. The situation has also been difficult for some landlords struggling to pay mortgages. 

“If they have a tenant in there who’s not paying rent, that landlord is feeling it much harder than another landlord who buys a property cash free and clearly fixes it up and doesn’t have a mortgage…”

Congress is debating housing assistance in the latest stimulus package. But it remains to be seen what that may look like, or if the state will step in. 

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