Hurricane Ida's impact on already stretched housing areas

Ibijoke Akinbowale, National Community Reinvestment Coalition Director of Housing Counseling Network joins Yahoo Finance to discuss the hurricane's impact on those who have been impacted by the eviction moratorium.

Video Transcript

- Let's turn to the housing sector because, as Louisiana and a number of other states assess the damage from and also clean up the damage left by Hurricane Ida, which forced thousands of people out of their homes, the coming eviction crisis could make things even worse. Well, we want to bring in Ibijoke Akinbowale. She's the director of Housing Counseling Network at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. And our Yahoo Finance reporter Dani Romero also joining the conversation.

Ibijoke, it's great to have you on Yahoo Finance. I was actually looking through some of these numbers, and there's a recent Census Bureau survey, 6% of renters nationwide are likely or very likely to face eviction. In Louisiana, that number is nearly 20%. So just give us an assessment just of the current situation that we're seeing in Louisiana, and how Hurricane Ida further complicates this issue.

IBIJOKE AKINBOWALE: Fantastic question. I mean, we're in the midst of natural disaster season, and so of course these disasters have an astronomical impact on what's already been brewing in the market of the COVID-19 impacts. And so given the lapse in the eviction moratorium and the lack of assistance for really the small-time landlords that represent over 48% of our affordable housing stock, it's hard to keep their interest and it's hard to keep folks on the line wanting to return and redevelop the destroyed and lapsed housing supply back, and making it available for affordable access.

DANI ROMERO: Yeah, and also can you talk about, now that the federal eviction ban is over, and with the implications of Hurricane Ida, what will we really see unfold from this, and what would really be the impacts?

IBIJOKE AKINBOWALE: So unfortunately, what disasters represent in communities like this is increased influx of gentrification and a dwindling of the affordable housing stock that is available. COVID-19 has certainly been an impact that has pushed away small landlords' interest, and a disaster will do the same thing, as they often are impacted residing in the properties and needing access to competitive lending opportunities in the market. Market prices seem to increase based upon disaster implications, and so that's something that we could anticipate, given the impact of Ida and, of course, the ending of the national moratorium.

- Yeah, it sounds like kind of a double-edged sword, a double blow for some of the smaller landlords, especially the mom-and-pop operations. You have, on the one hand, the hurricane. On the other hand, you have the eviction moratorium, which prevents them from getting money from some of their clients. I'm just wondering if there's anything from that perspective that whatever you've seen, whatever you encounter in your work relates to that situation.

IBIJOKE AKINBOWALE: Absolutely. And I'll say that something that is really critical is going to be the states, honestly, providing additional protections. We know that Hurricane Ida not only impacted the Gulf Coast, but the Northeast and New York and New Jersey. And New York was able to successfully extend their eviction moratorium until January the 15th. And so right now, we know that local advocates in Louisiana are pushing for the same protections. These things will be incredibly crucial to helping folks maintain and return to the housing that they've evacuated.

DANI ROMERO: And do we know how many homes have been damaged or destroyed by the tropical storm? And what are the resources that people can use if they're dealing with a housing issue right now?

IBIJOKE AKINBOWALE: Sure. Thus far, it's been reported that more than a million homes and businesses have been impacted. We'll continue to know more information as FEMA is able to get on the ground and to do assessments, and as folks are able to file a claim, given some of the major disaster declarations. In the meantime, incredible resources are going to be the Red Cross, FEMA, of course, and also local housing counseling agencies, as folks continue to navigate their COVID forbearance, the eviction moratorium, and any disaster protections that they may have with their landlords or servicers.

- Ibijoke, when it comes to the coming eviction crisis, I guess I think one of the big questions here is there's $45 billion in federal rental assistance that's been allocated by Congress to address this issue, yet we're having this massive problem, and it comes down to the state level just of some states just simply not being able to get out the money, and get out the money nearly fast enough. I guess what are some steps or what things can be done in order to speed up this process? And I know that's the multimillion-dollar question that so many states are trying to resolve right now.

IBIJOKE AKINBOWALE: No, I couldn't agree with you more. I mean, throughout this entire pandemic, it's been clear that renters have not had the streamlined approach and solution like homeowners have had with the forbearance. And so we're really looking to see more of the rental funds be able to access consumers quickly. I know representative Maxine Waters is working and certainly vying for some improvements to the rental assistance program. The team at HUD is also working, and the overall Biden administration is working exponentially on making certain that these funds are reaching local consumers immediately. And I'll also say that housing counseling agencies are magnificent resources to be able to help folks supplement this process as we work out nationally and across the country.

- Ibijoke Akinbowale, thank you so much for taking the time. It's great to get your perspective. Director of Housing Counseling Network at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. And our thanks to Dani Romero, as well.