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The eviction system, which saw a dramatic drop in cases before a federal moratorium expired over the weekend, rumbled back into action Monday, with activists girding for the first of what could be millions of affected tenants to be tossed onto the street.

In Rhode Island, landlords tired of waiting for federal rental assistance were in court hoping to evict their tenants while in Detroit, at least 600 tenants with court orders against them were at immediate risk.

“It’s very scary with the moratorium being over. All they need in Detroit is a landlord to pay for a dumpster,” said Ted Phillips, a lawyer who leads the United Community Housing Coalition.

The Biden administration allowed the federal moratorium to expire over the weekend and Congress was unable to extend it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic leaders called for an immediate extension, calling it a “moral imperative” to prevent Americans from being put out of their homes during a COVID-19 surge.

In announcing the end of the ban, the Biden administration said its hands were tied after the U.S. Supreme Court signaled the measure had to end. It had hoped that historic amounts of rental assistance allocated by Congress in December and March would help avert an eviction crisis.

But the distribution has been painfully slow. Only about $3 billion of the first tranche of $25 billion had been distributed through June by states and localities. Another $21.5 billion will go to the states.

More than 15 million people live in households that owe as much as $20 billion to their landlords, according to the Aspen Institute. As of July 5, roughly 3.6 million people in the U.S. said they faced eviction in the next two months, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.

Parts of the South and other regions with weaker tenant protections will likely see the largest spikes and communities of color where vaccination rates are sometimes lower will be hit hardest. But advocates say this crisis is likely to have a wider impact than pre-pandemic evictions, hitting families who have never before been behind on rent.

In Rhode Island, Gabe Imondi, a 74-year-old landlord, was in court Monday hoping to get an eviction execution. It’s the final step to push a tenant out of one of four housing units he owns in nearby Pawtucket.

Imondi said he and his tenant have both filed forms for the billions in federal aid meant to help keep tenants in their homes but so far, he says, he hasn’t seen a cent of the state’s $200 million share.

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