House for rent in La Mesa. Photo by Chris Stone
A house for rent in La Mesa. Photo by Chris Stone

The aftershocks of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be felt as we slowly move away from the illness itself and are now faced with the damage left behind. The loss of income for many has resulted in their impending foreclosures or evictions from their homes and the threat of nowhere to turn for help.

In 2021 the Urban Institute estimated that prior to governmental aid, about 18% of renters, or around 10 million people, were delinquent on their rent with an outstanding balance of more than $57 billion. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium on evictions was extended until October, but when it finally expires the threat looms.

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Government aid will help to a point for a select few. However hundreds of thousands will be left without assistance. The strain on the U.S. population will be very difficult, but the toll it can take on the percentage of that population who are veterans can be deadly.

For those who have served our country and returned to deal with issues such as post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury or other physical challenges, adding the stress of joblessness and possible homelessness are all triggers that have led to veteran suicide.

National statistics show that 22 veterans per day are taking their own lives. During COVID-19, that number went as high as 26 veterans per day.

The flood of evictions that are coming will be unlike anything this country has seen, and it is not simply up to our government to fix it. The federal government will need the assistance of nonprofits and social services organizations to help handle the increasing need.

As corporations and private citizens, we can help by supporting these organizations so that they have the resources they need when the calls start coming in. Landlords can prepare by identifying organizations in their area that provide financial assistance for tenants who are struggling.

Organizations like USA Cares are helping by offering grants that require no repayment to veterans who qualify who find themselves facing hard times. Often, bridging that financial gap in a time of need can be the hand up they need to get through.

Even during “normal” times, the need for assistance is always greater than the resources available. As we brace ourselves for another post-Covid punch, we urge the community to step up and support organizations that work to keep veterans and families in their homes.

Natalie Freitas is the executive director of the California chapter of USA Cares, which provides post-9/11 military veterans, service members, and their families with financial assistance and post service skills training.