Posters at Belltown neighborhood Jupiter Bar in Seattle, Washington speak to the concern citizens have about being able to pay rent amid the COVID-19 crisis. Photo credit: Derek Simeone/Flickr

An order issued last week from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could prevent millions of evictions of Latinos from their homes. The temporary eviction moratorium, which would last through the end of the year, would prevent U.S. renters from losing their homes, a looming crisis that disproportionately affects Latino and Black families, according to UCLA research data.

The CDC’s order, published Friday, September 4 in the federal register, would cover about 40 million renters, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the U.S. House of Representatives. Renters who received an economic impact stimulus check would be eligible for the protection. It would apply in any U.S. state that doesn’t already have more protective eviction bans in place. A previous eviction protection expired in July and covered all U.S. properties. A form is expected to be available on the CDC website for renters.

Protesters hold a sign that reads “Warning, No evictions during the pandemic! No desalojos durante la pandemia!” in Reading, PA Tuesday Sept. 1, 2020. Photo credit: Ben Hasty via Getty Images.

The eviction crisis is expected to hit people of color harder, research suggests. In the UCLA study on California housing, researchers say systemic inequalities put more financial strain on those who are suffering economically during the pandemic.

“People of color, low-income individuals, and those with less education and skills are most at risk,” said UCLA Luskin research professor Paul Ong.

The pandemic has been economically devastating to Latinas and Black women, says LIFT, a poverty-support organization based in Washington, D.C., with offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City. LIFT published a report in late July detailing the struggles of some of the members it helps. “I’ve spent money buying extra food, medicine, cleaning supplies, and basic essentials in case we go on lockdown. Money that was to go toward bills and rent,” one woman said. According to the article, 92% of LIFT families have lost some or all of their income and 93% lack the resources to cover rent, food, or utilities.

In a July USA Today survey, 45.9% of Latino respondents said they had slight or no confidence they would be able to pay rent in August, compared to 22.5% of white respondents. Over twenty one percent of Latino respondents said they hadn’t paid rent in July.

Tenant advocates told CNBC that while relief on rent is welcome, the CDC’s moves don’t provide the financial backing to help keep renters and landlords from falling further into depth. 

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Omar L. Gallaga is a freelance journalist living in Central Texas who has written for NPR, The Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, Engadget, Hispanic Magazine, CNN, MSNBC, and The Washington Post. He was a longtime technology and culture writer at The Austin American-Statesman, where he helped launch the newspaper ¡ahora sí! and two podcasts.