Air Force veteran left homeless after tenants refuse to pay rent

An Air Force veteran who owns three upstate New York properties has been forced to live in her car because her tenants have refused to pay rent thanks to the eviction moratorium.

Brandie LaCasse told CBS News that she has been living at friends’ homes and out of her car with her young daughter. She said she is owed more than $23,000 in unpaid rent but cannot force her tenants to pay or leave because of federal and state moratoriums on evictions.

“I’ve cried many nights, like thinking, ‘Where’s my money?’” the single mom said. “I don’t understand how they can give my private property to somebody to live for free. I bought that property. I fixed it up with my blood, sweat and tears.”

She added, “I invested in these properties, never thinking I wouldn’t have a place to live. I just want my house. That’s it. I just want my house.”

LaCasse has been forced to either stay with friends temporarily or live out of her car with her daughter.

Federal funds earmarked to help alleviate such situations during the pandemic have not been allocated, according to the US Treasury Department.

Bans on evictions were meant to protect renters but many homeowners say they have also suffered. A new report found that nearly 10 percent of landlords across the country managed to collect only half their rents in 2020.

“One thing that’s very clear is we have no housing safety net,” said the report’s co-author Vincent Reina, a housing policy expert and professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “We’re forcing low-income households and owners to essentially bear the cost of that in this current moment. And that’s unfair to both parties.”

LaCasse claimed that she is owed $23,000 in rent by her tenants.

The US Supreme Court on Thursday struck down the COVID-19 pandemic-related freeze on evictions, which was recently extended by the Biden administration despite a lack of congressional support.

That decision sent Gov. Kathy Hochul and other top elected officials in Albany scrambling on whether to call back lawmakers for a special session.

“I am in talks with the Senate Majority Leader and Assembly Speaker to call a special session to address the impending eviction crisis, given the Supreme Court’s decision,” Hochul said in a statement. “Our teams will be working through the weekend to address how best to deliver relief to renters and homeowners in need as quickly as possible.”

An Albany source said a special session could be called as soon as next week, though it wasn’t clear what proposed fixes could be on the table.

*story by The New York Post