Cities and states are lifting eviction moratoriums they put in place in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Is an uptick in evictions around the corner?

Not if tenants, landlords, and government officials work together to address the challenges low-income renters face, according to panelists representing the three groups who spoke at a concurrent session at the 2021 ULI Fall Meeting.

“The last thing we want to do is evict a renter,” said Daryl Carter, chairman and CEO of Avanath Capital Management, an owner and operator of affordable and workforce housing. “Our goal is to keep our residents in place. The lower the turnover, the safer the property.”

Eviction moratoriums obscured the longstanding difficulty that many low- and middle-income people face securing high-quality affordable housing. Pre-pandemic, most renters making less than $50,000 had to spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

Sendy Soto, managing deputy commissioner for the Chicago Department of Housing’s Office of Community Engagement, Racial Equity and Strategic Initiatives, credited her city’s low eviction rates to the willingness of landlords to work with tenants.

“We see better outcomes when landlords, developers, and building managers work with community partners to provide some sort of wraparound service, whether it be financial assistance, financial literacy, mental health, or child care,” Soto said. “Thinking holistically would support a lot of the issues that are part of the lives of struggling tenants.”

Carter, Soto, and fellow panelist John Bartlett of Chicago’s Metropolitan Tenants Organization agreed that educating tenants is key to keeping them housed.

“We run a hotline that’s open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. every day so tenants can find out what the law is and learn what their rights are,” Bartlett said.

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