Commentary: Ending eviction moratoriums helps everyone

Progressive activists claimed the COVID-19 pandemic augmented "deep racial inequities" in Minnesota, including the inability to pay rent. 

Stock photo/Unsplash

Progressive activists Owen Duckworth of the Alliance, a “social justice” group, and Ivory Taylor, a tenant advocate, naively opined this week in the Star Tribune about the housing eviction moratorium while proposing utopian demands.

It is never easy to point out laws and facts when facing mawkish name-callers. Emotional treatises are not arguments, since thoughtful arguments should be devoid of emotion. Yet I’ll soldier on.

Duckworth and Taylor began by claiming the COVID-19 pandemic augmented “deep racial inequities” in Minnesota, including the inability to pay rent.

The partisans then heaped praise on Gov. Tim Walz for taking “necessary steps to protect the lives of renters, safeguard public health and stabilize the economy.”

They said Minnesota representatives now “face an urgent and critical choice” and should “refuse to compromise the lives of countless renter households on the path to ending the moratorium.”

Duckworth and Taylor want no evictions. None.

The juvenile duo lost seriousness when reverting to more racial and politically-charged language. The authors said “renters of color” are most likely to experience housing discrimination.

“Minnesota’s housing system has been deeply flawed and inequitable for generations before the current COVID pandemic. Low-income people and people of color are dramatically disproportionately impacted by housing instability and loss of their homes.”

Claiming, of course, that housing is a “human right,” the radicals reverted back to racial division, concluding that “we have witnessed the fatal implications of structural racism, in the loss of life and the loss of livelihoods in communities of color.”

Let’s visit some facts, rather than conjecture.

In the past 12 months, the government has handed out well over $3,000 per individual, along with perpetual unemployment benefits, to avoid the aforementioned hardships.

There are many entry-level jobs paying $15 an hour at McDonald’s or Target these days. You can work there, or get a second job, as many have throughout history. You can also get a roommate.

Within their histrionics, Duckworth and Taylor failed to provide statistics documenting the financial adversity renters supposedly suffered during the pandemic. I know many people who’ve received more money than usual during the pandemic, because of the stimuli and additional unemployment benefits, which run at least until the fall. I’d wager many complacent folks skipped paying rent by choice.

Want housing to be less accessible? Take away landlords’ revenue stream and push them into foreclosure. Why have a lease agreement if the tenant doesn’t adhere to it? More importantly, the government has no business sticking its nose into agreements between private parties.

“If the state deems shelter a human right on the same order as food, and then seeks to pass off to landlords the expense of underwriting tenants who cannot afford to pay the rent, it’s only logical the state should cover the cost of the landlord’s loss,” a real estate lawyer told Alpha News.

I feel sorry for rental property owners — most are ordinary people — who haven’t been paid rent for many months. You will soon see a decline in rental availability, as property owners won’t rent a house and not get paid when they still have to cover property taxes, electricity, HVAC, insurance, and more.

The recent bipartisan bill passed by the Minnesota Senate is a good compromise to give landlords flexibility to remove troublesome tenants.

“While we need to provide an off-ramp for those most egregious violations and an opportunity for those needing affordable housing, we also need to know how many are truly impacted, versus those taking advantage of the system,” Sen. Mark Koran, R-North Branch, told Alpha News. “Most people in line for eviction are there for true material breaches to their leases.”

About a half-billion dollars in additional federal rental assistance is being sent to Minnesota. Some of that money must go to landlords. Any rental eviction moratorium must be balanced by a subsidy to property owners to cover enormous losses in rent. This process is common these days and seems equitable.

And we love “equity,” right?