Loopholes in rental and lease agreements may force individuals and families into crowded living situations.

I value when our Monitor Monday and RACmonitor  listeners reach out to me on social media; many did after last week’s broadcast and article on the topic of eviction moratoriums. With so many hospitalized patients dealing with housing insecurity, concerns are rampant specific to extended hospitalizations and safe discharge planning options, and the potential fiscal consequences for healthcare organizations.

Pre-pandemic, housing instability contributed to patients being 32 percent more likely to exceed average hospitalization length of stays, and more than 50 percent of readmissions. Emergency department visits for patients experiencing homelessness can cost on average of $3700 per visit, and may occur up to five to six times annually, the price tag approximately $18,500 per patient; highest users can cost upwards of $44,000. However, amid what some experts are referring to as the current fourth wave of COVID-transmission, newer and costlier challenges await the industry for patients experiencing housing challenges.

Here are the facts:

  • The CDC did extend the order to prevent evictions through June 30, 2021. The order protects tenants who:
    • have done their best to obtain government assistance for housing
    • are unable to pay their full rent due to a substantial loss of income
    • are making their best efforts to ensure timely partial payments of rent, and
    • would become homeless or have to move into shared living settings if evicted.
  • To qualify for protection tenants must have one of the following financial criteria be applicable:
    • earn less than $99,000 as individuals or $198,000 if filing joint tax returns for 2020
    • not be required to report income to the IRS in 2020, or have received an Economic stimulus check or other similar federally authorized payments made to individuals in 2020 and 2021.
  • In addition, the Federal Housing Administration has also extended its ban on evictions for properties financed through FHA-insured single family and government backed mortgage buyers (as in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae).

Despite the CDC order, loopholes in rental and lease agreements may force individuals and families into crowded living situations, increasing the potential of COVID transmission. Many state governments have implemented unique eviction and utility shutoff moratorium laws and foreclosure bans.

These protections generally don’t relieve tenants or homeowners of the obligation to pay rent or mortgage but may suspend the ability of landlords or lenders to file new eviction or foreclosure cases, or enforce orders to vacate property.

The NOLO website provides an interactive table with each state law, and a direct link to the National Low Income Housing’s federal eviction moratorium lookup tool, which informs individuals if an address is covered by federal eviction bans.

How much do eviction moratorium and housing protections impact our Monitor Monday Listeners? Our weekly survey asked, How homelessness or housing insecurity have impacted patient throughput during the pandemic (e.g. increased admissions, discharge delays), with the results viewable here.

Programming Note: Listen to Ellen Fink-Samnick’s live reporting of the social determinants of health (SDoH) every Monday during Monitor Mondays, 10 a.m. Eastern.