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‘I have $4 to my name.’ An extended eviction ban isn’t enough for some struggling renters

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Jordan Mills and her husband Jonathan Russell with their daughter Valkyrie. The family was evicted from their home in San Antonio, despite providing a CDC declaration to their landlord. | Courtesy CNN

(CNN) — Millions of struggling renters will likely be protected from eviction — at least for another month.

The stimulus bill that was signed into law by President Trump late Sunday night extends a national ban on evictions until January 31. The moratorium, which was put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in September to stop the spread of the coronavirus, was initially set to expire at the end of this month.

The package also provides $25 billion in emergency rental assistance.

Should the package go through, neither of the measures will likely be enough to keep the most at-risk renters in their homes past January.

“While extending the CDC eviction moratorium for just one month is insufficient to keep people housed for the duration of the pandemic, the extension provides essential and immediate protection for millions of renters on the verge of losing their homes in January,” said Diane Yentel, president and chief executive of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

An estimated 9.2 million renters who have lost income during the pandemic are behind on rent, according to an analysis of Census data by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Once the moratoriums are lifted, many of these renters will be expected to pay their entire back rent or come up with some sort of payment plan with their landlord — or they could face losing their home.

CNN Business spoke with several renters who have been struggling to afford their monthly payments as a result of the pandemic.

Kelly Green said she has a roof over her head only because of the CDC eviction moratorium. | Courtesy CNN

‘Money is piling up against me’

Kelly Green, who lives in a $1,429-a-month apartment in Daytona Beach, Florida, has not been able to pay rent since September.

“The only reason I have a roof over my head is because of the eviction moratorium,” Green said.

Green makes her living selling rhinestone- and sequined-biker apparel at motorcycle rallies and other festivals.

After the shutdown in March, there were no festivals, no events and she had no income. Still, she cobbled together her savings, stimulus payment, rent relief and unemployment insurance payments and managed to get current on her rent through July. But she didn’t know how she’d make ends meet after the $600 a week supplemental unemployment support ended.

Green heard about a coronavirus-related rent relief fund offered by Volusia County, where she lives. She applied for assistance and was awarded $4,500 for three months’ rent.

“I thought, ‘Great!’ that will pay a few months’ rent, and I can move out in November when my current lease is over and I’ll still have a good credit rating that will allow me to rent myself another apartment,” she said.

But there was a snag: The Volusia County rent assistance program requires tenants to have been current on rent as of March 13, 2020. Green was behind on her rent in February and, as a result, her apartment complex wouldn’t accept the aid.

Without that money, Green was unable to pay full rent for October, November or December. And since she overstayed her lease in November, she’s now on a month-to-month lease that is $500 more expensive a month.

“Even if the moratorium is extended, money is piling up against me,” she said. “What would help me the most is if I receive a check for rental assistance for three months, that they take it.”

She knows it doesn’t make sense to stay and watch the amount she owes grow, but she said she doesn’t know where she’ll go without putting friends and family at risk of coronavirus exposure.

“It totally depresses you,” she said. “You feel like giving up. Where will I go when the CDC order expires, and I have this eviction on my record?”

Have to be out by Christmas

Mercedes Darby lives in a three-bedroom apartment in Nashville with her three high school-aged children and her daughter, Princess Thomas, who is in college. The two usually split the rent. But since both were laid off in March, they have not been able to afford the $1,250 a month rent since April and currently owe $9,000 in back rent and fees.

Even though Darby provided her landlord with a CDC declaration, which protects the family from being evicted for non-payment, they are now being evicted for a separate lease violation — Darby’s name is not on the lease.

Darby says the lease is in Thomas’ name, but she has been living there since they got the apartment a year and a half ago together and she has been making payments all along.

After missing a December 15th eviction court date, there was a default judgment giving the family 10 days to leave. So Darby is packing everything she owns to put in storage.

“We have to be out by Christmas Day or they will have the sheriffs in here,” Darby said after the ruling. “With no money, I have to find a temporary place.”

Darby was laid off from her job handling member services at a large insurance company in March. She had been looking for a new apartment since July. But even after paying the application fees, she was repeatedly turned down because of her credit history and a prior bankruptcy. Now her daughter is likely to have trouble, too, because of this eviction.

In November, Darby was rehired to a similar job and money has been coming in again. But she now has to pay a lot more in fees and deposit money for an apartment because of her history.

“I have a good paying job,” she said. “I make enough, if you didn’t want triple the amount upfront.”

For the time being, she’s looking for a place for her family to stay through the holidays while she finds a more permanent home and prepares for her court date in February on the back rent she owes.

“We don’t have anywhere to go,” she said. “We don’t have family here and our friends can’t take all of us. I’m going to try to find a hotel. But that will take all the money I have to put toward another apartment.”

Bryan Clift with his daughter Iyla. Clift has been out of work since March and is behind on rent on his apartment in the suburbs of Minneapolis. | Courtesy CNN

Waiting for rent relief

Bryan Clift’s work as a waiter in suburban Minneapolis dried up last March, at the same time school for his 10-year-old daughter Iyla moved online. Iyla’s mother, who she did not see regularly, died a few weeks ago. Now Clift is about $2,000 behind on rent and they are in danger of facing eviction.

“My daughter is everything I got,” he said. “I put her ahead of everything. Making sure she has a roof over her head and food on the table is the most important thing.”

They fared okay through the summer, with the unemployment insurance payments he received. But when the $600 in weekly supplemental payments expired, he feared he would fall behind on his $1,500 a month rent for the two-bedroom apartment.

“When I saw my savings go down I went to talk to the leasing people, who I’ve always had a good relationship with,” he said. “I said I’m going to try to do my best. They suggested I apply for some rent relief.”

He has applied for and expects to receive relief money from Prism, a local social services nonprofit. But it is not in hand yet.

“It is a waiting game,” he said. “If you’re going to ask for any aid right now it will take a while.”

With this anticipated support, he’s hoping to bridge the gap in income until he can work again.

“I could go get a job now,” he said. “I want to. I don’t like sitting around. But without the schools open, I can’t go to work. If something doesn’t change for me in the next few months, what am I going to do? I pushed back every bill that I can. And this rent relief will help, but for how long?”

Any additional help from the government is welcome, he said, but, “I could do without the stimulus check if I had better unemployment, because you can stretch that out longer.”

Evicted despite CDC protections

The worst already happened to Jordan Mills and Jonathan Russell and their two-year-old daughter Valkyrie.

Even though they were protected by the eviction moratorium, a court granted an eviction anyway.

Mills thought she did everything right. She provided the CDC declaration form protecting her from eviction to her landlord. She applied and received rent relief money from the city of San Antonio. She even made a payment plan.

“People like me are still being evicted for non-payment,” she said.

She made a payment arrangement with her landlord, but fell behind by about $450. The property owners filed for eviction citing a violation of one part of the CDC declaration in which Mills agreed to use “best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual’s circumstances may permit.”

Mills drove to the courthouse to appear at her eviction hearing, but says she was unable to attend because she did not have money to pay for parking.

“I couldn’t afford parking, it is all $20,” she said. “I’m literally living hand-to-mouth. I got paid yesterday. I have $4 to my name.”

In May, Mills, who is an assistant manager at a payday loan company, had seen her hours cut. She realized her family was not going to be able to pay their rent along with their high utility bills during the Texas summer.

She applied for and received rental assistance money, a lump sum of $3,500 for three months rent.

When Mills contracted coronavirus, she said, their child care provider dropped them as a precaution and her husband left his job as a security guard to care for Valkyrie full-time, further cutting their income.

After the court ordered their eviction in November, they didn’t wait for the sheriff to arrive. Mills borrowed $1,400 from her mother and moved her family out of the three-bedroom, single-wide mobile home they rented for $1,175 a month and into a 470-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment in San Antonio.

The family’s new apartment is in a building known as “second chance” leasing, for people with evictions or bad credit.

Mills paid dearly for that second chance. In addition to the $750 a month rent, a $299 deposit and a $300 pet deposit, she also had to pay a $650 risk fee because of her history.

“The worst has happened,” she said. “But I’m still afraid how it will affect me when I go to rent somewhere bigger, somewhere more safe. We have roaches. I don’t want to stay here.”

While she appreciates the rent relief they received, she said more rent assistance should go directly to landlords.

“If there was something for them, they wouldn’t be so quick to turn on the tenants.”

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If You Want Consumers to Lose, Network Regulation is a Must – Digital Transactions

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After the current U.S. Congress was sworn in, a predictable chorus of merchants, lobbyists, and lawmakers demanded new interchange price caps and other government mandates to decrease credit card interchange fees for merchants. The tired attacks on credit cards are an easy narrative that focuses almost exclusively on the cost side of the ledger, while completely ignoring the cards’ important role in the economy and the regressive effects of interchange regulation. 

To lawmakers blindly acting on behalf of retailers, regulation is a brilliant idea—regardless of how it affects their constituents. For decades, they have promised these interventions would eventually benefit consumers. But the lessons from the Durbin Amendment in the United States and price cap regulation in Australia is clear. Although some policymakers bemoan the current economic model, arbitrarily “cutting” rates for the sake of cuts completely ignores the economic reality that as billions of dollars move to merchants, billions are lost by consumers. 

For the uninitiated, let’s break down what credit interchange funds: 1) the cost of fraud; 2) more than $40 billion in consumers rewards; 3) the cost of nonpayment by consumers, which is typically 4% of revolving credit; 4) more than $300 billion in credit floats to U.S. consumers; and 5) drastically higher “ticket lift” for merchants. 

Johnson: “To lawmakers blindly acting on behalf of retailers, regulation is a brilliant idea—regardless of how it affects their constituents.”

These are just some of the benefits. If costs were all that mattered, American Express wouldn’t exist. Until recently, it was by far the most expensive U.S. network. Yet, merchants still took AmEx because they knew the average AmEx “swipe” was around $140, far more than Visa and Mastercard. 

Put simply, for a few basis points, interchange functions as a small insurance policy to safeguard retailers from the threat of fraud and nonpayment by consumers. Consider the amount of ink spilled on interchange when no one mentions that the chargeoff rate for issuing banks on bad credit card debt exceeds credit interchange.

Looking abroad, interchange opponents cite Australia, which halved interchange fees nearly 20 years ago, as a glowing example of how to regulate credit cards. In truth, Australia’s regulations have harmed consumers, reduced their options, and forced Australians to pay more for less appealing credit card products. 

First, the cost of a basic credit card is $60 USD in many Australian banks. How many millions of Americans would lose access to credit if the annual cost went from $0 to $60? Can you imagine the consumer outrage? 

In a two-sided market like credit cards, any regulated shift to one side acts a massive tax on the other. For Australians, the new tax fell on cardholders. There, annual fees for standard cards rose by nearly 25%, according to an analysis by global consulting firm CRA International. Fees for rewards cards skyrocketed by as much as 77%.

Many no-fee credit cards were no longer financially viable. As a result, they were pulled from the market, leaving lower income Australians, as well as young people working to establish credit, with few viable options in the credit card market.

Even the benefits that lead many people to sign up for credit cards in the first place have been substantially diluted in Australia because of the reduction of interchange fees. In fact, the value of rewards points fell by approximately 23% after the country cut interchange fees.

Efforts to add interchange price caps would have a similar effect here in the U.S. A 50% cut would amount to a $40 billion to $50 billion wealth transfer from consumers and issuers to merchants. For the 20 million or so financially marginalized Americans, what will their access to credit be when issuers find a $50 billion hole in their balance sheets? 

The average American generates $167 per year in rewards, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Perks like airline miles, hotel points, and cashback rewards would be decimated and would likely be just the province of the rich after regulation. Many middle-class consumers could say goodbye to family vacations booked at almost no cost thanks to credit card rewards.

As the travel industry and retailers fight to bounce back from the impact of the pandemic, slashing consumer rewards and reducing the attractiveness of already-fragile businesses is the last thing lawmakers and regulators in Washington should undertake.

Proposals to follow Australia’s misguided lead in capping interchange may allow retailers to snatch a few extra basis points, but the consequences would be disastrous for consumers. Cards would simply be less valuable and more expensive for Americans, and millions of consumers would lose access to credit. University of Pennsylvania Professor Natasha Sarin estimates debit price caps alone cost consumers $3 billion. How much more would consumers have to pay under Durbin 2.0?

Members of Congress and other leaders should learn from Australia and Durbin 1.0 to avoid making the same mistake twice.

—Drew Johnson is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, Washington, D.C.

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Increase Your Credit Score With Michael Carrington

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More than ever before, your debt and credit records can negatively impact you or your family’s life if left unmanaged. Sadly, many Americans feel entirely helpless about their credit score’s present state and the steps they need to take to fix a less-than-perfect score. This is where Michael Carrington, founder of Tier 1 Credit Specialist, comes in. Michael is determined to offer thousands of Americans an educated, informed approach towards credit restoration.

Michael understands the plight that having a bad credit score can bring into your life. His first financial industry job was working as a home mortgage loan analyst for one of the nation’s largest lenders. Early on, he had to work a grueling schedule which included several jobs seven days a week while putting in almost 12-hour days to make $5,000 monthly to get by barely.

“I was tired of living a mediocre life and was determined to increase the value that I can offer others through my knowledge of the finance industry – I started reading all of the necessary books, networking with industry professionals, and investing in mentorship,” shares Michael Carrington. “I got my break when I was able to grow a seven-figure credit repair and funding organization that is flexible enough to address the financial needs of thousands of Americans.”

With his vast experience in the business world, establishing himself as a well-respected business leader, Michael Carrington felt he had the power to help millions of Americas in restoring their credit. Michael learned the FICO system, stayed up to date on the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), found ways to improve his credit score, and started showing others.

The Tier 1 Credit Specialist uses a tested and proven approach to educate their clients on everything credit scores. Michael is leveraging his experience as a home mortgage professional, marketing executive, and global business coach to inform his clients. He and his team take their time to carefully go through their client’s credit records as they try to find the root of their problem and find suitable financial solutions.

The company is changing lives all over America as it helps families and individuals to repair their credit scores, gain access to lower interest rates on loans and get better jobs. What Tier 1 Credit Specialists is offering many Americans is a chance at financial freedom.

Michael Carrington has repaired over $8 million in debt write-ups and has helped fund American’s with over $4 million through thousands of fixed reports. “I credit our success to being people-focused,” he often says. “The amount of success that we create is going to be in direct proportion to the amount of value that we provide people – not just our customers – people.”

Because of its ‘people-focused goals, the Tier 1 Credit Specialist is determined to help millions of Americans achieve financial literacy. It is currently receiving raving reviews from clients who are completely happy with the credit repair solutions that the company has provided them.

Today, Michael Carrington is continuing with a new initiative to serve more Americans who suffer from bad credit due to little or no access to affordable resources for repair.

The Tier 1 Credit Socialist brand is changing the outlook of many families across America. To do this, the company has created an affiliate system that will provide more people with ways of earning during these tough economic times.

As a well-respected international business leader and entrepreneur with numerous achievements to his name Michael Carrington aims to help millions of Americans achieve the financial freedom, he is experiencing today. Tier 1 Credit Socialist is one of the most effective credit repair brands on the market right now, and they have no plans for slowing down in 2021!

Learn more about Michael Carrington by visiting his Instagram account or checking out the Tier 1 Credit Specialist website.

Published April 17th, 2021



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Does Having a Bank Account With an Issuer Make Credit Card Approval Easier?

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Better the risk you know than the one you don’t.

When it comes to personal finance, nothing is guaranteed. That goes double for credit. That’s why, no matter how perfect your credit or how many times you’ve applied for a new credit card, there’s always that moment of doubt while you wait for a decision.

Issuing banks look at a wide range of factors when making a decision — and your credit score is only one of them. They look at your entire credit history, and consider things like your income and even your history with the bank itself.

For example, if you defaulted on a credit card with a given bank 15 years ago, that mistake is likely long gone from your credit reports. To you and the three major credit bureaus, it is ancient history. But banks are like elephants — they never forget. And that mistake could be enough to stop your approval.

But does it go the other way, too? Does having a bank account that’s in good standing with an issuer make you more likely to get approved? While there’s no clear-cut answer, there are a few cases when it could help.

A good relationship may weigh in your favor

Credit card issuers rarely come right out and say much about their approval processes, so we often have to rely on anecdotal evidence to get an idea of what works. That said, you can find a number of stories of folks who have been approved for a credit card they were previously denied for after they opened a savings or checking account with the issuer.

These types of stories are more common at the extreme ends of the card range. If you have a borderline bad credit score, for instance, having a long, positive banking history with the issuer — like no overdrafts or other problems — may weigh in your favor when applying for a credit card. That’s because the bank is able to see that you have regular income and don’t overspend.

Similarly, a healthy savings or investment account with a bank could be a helpful factor when applying for a high-end rewards credit card. This allows the bank to see that you can afford its product and that you have the type of funds required to put some serious spend on it.

Having a good banking relationship with an issuer can be particularly helpful when the economy is questionable and banks are tightening their proverbial pursestrings. When trying to minimize risk, going with applicants you’ve known for years simply makes more sense than starting fresh with a stranger.

Some banks provide targeted offers

Another way having a previous banking relationship with an issuer can help is when you can receive targeted credit card offers. These are sort of like invitations to apply for a card that the bank thinks will be a good fit for you. While approval for targeted offers is still not guaranteed, some types of targeted offers can be almost as good.

For example, the only confirmed way to get around Chase’s 5/24 rule (which is that any card application will be automatically denied if you’ve opened five or more cards in the last 24 months) is to receive a special “just for you” offer through your online Chase account. When these offers show up — they’re marked with a special black star — they will generally lead to an approval, no matter what your current 5/24 status.

Credit unions require membership

For the most part, you aren’t usually required to have a bank account with a particular issuer to get a credit card with that bank. However, there is one big exception: credit unions. Due to the different structure of a credit union vs. a bank, credit unions only offer their products to current members of the credit union.

To become a member, you need to actually have a stake in that credit union. In most cases, this is done by opening a savings account and maintaining a small balance — $5 is a common minimum.

You can only apply for a credit union credit card once you’ve joined, so a bank account is an actual requirement in this case. That said, your chances of being approved once you’re a member aren’t necessarily impacted by how much money you have in the account.

In general, while having a bank account with an issuer may be helpful in some cases, it’s not a cure-all for bad credit. Your credit history will always have more impact than your banking history when it comes to getting approved for a credit card.

For more information on bad credit, check out our guide to learn how to rebuild your credit.

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