One of the more controversial actions federal and state governments took during the height of the coronavirus pandemic was issuing eviction moratoria. The intent was to avoid a spike in homelessness, as workers lost their jobs, and the ability to pay rents on their homes.

Renters benefitted. Property owners didn’t. Federal aid that was supposed to help property owners has been slow and inconsistent. The results were entirely predictable: small landlords are facing mounting bills, no income, and the very real prospect of having to sell their holdings at huge discounts:

While the government passed sweeping measures last year to prevent mass homelessness among renters, there was no targeted help for mom-and-pop property owners who provide much of America’s affordable housing. Like their tenants, these landlords are more likely to be nonwhite or to be immigrants using real estate for their economic foothold. Now, mortgage, maintenance and tax bills are piling up, putting landlords in danger of losing their buildings or being forced to sell to wealthier investors hunting for distressed deals.

In other words, eviction moratoria may be saving some people’s homes at the expense of other people’s livelihoods. 

And the government distortion of the market isn’t over.

In February, a U.S. District Court judge in Texas ruled a CDC ban on evictions was unconstitutional. The CDC extended the nationwide ban through the end of June, even as the Texas decision is under appeal. The White House wants the ban extended through the end of the federal government’s fiscal year, Sept. 30.