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tv   Nightline  ABC  December 10, 2020 12:37am-1:07am PST

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this is "nightline." >> tonight, eviction crisis. thousands of families forced out of their homes. >> i begged them. i said, listen, i don't have nowhere else to go. they told me, listen, that's not our problem. >> unable to pay the rent. >> i've never been in this situation, never in my life, never. >> leaving landlords footing the bills and in a bind. how the pandemic is creating one of the worst housing crises facing millions of americans. plus, privileged children. >> i just want a second chance to be like, i recognize i messed up. >> why jada pinkett smith and her mother split over inviting lori loughlin's daughter for a red table talk. what olivia jade learned from
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in the cold. tenants on the verge of losing their homes, landlords on the brink of losing their livelihoods. here's abc's trevor ault. >> i never would have thought that this would happen to me. never. >> reporter: the contents of this disheveled storm unit make up half of samantha vernon's life. the other half was left behind after she and her two daughters were evicted from their home last month. >> we couldn't sit there and really pack. >> trash bags? >> yep, i had to put it in trash bags because they wanted me out so fast. >> you went from living in your place? >> three years, comfortable. thought i didn't have no worries. to the next day, everything is gone. >> reporter: samantha is far from the only one confronting this nightmare. america is on the verge of an eviction crisis.
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nationwide there are nearly 10 million fewer jobs than there were at the start of the pandemic. and now an estimated 6.7 million renter households are currently unable to make rent. >> the united states is facing the greatest eviction crisis we have ever seen in our country's history. renters are stretched thread bare. >> reporter: those most vulnerable to eviction are the least likely to be able to pull themselves out. an abc news analysis shows during the pandemic, the rate of evictions in majority black and latino neighborhoods has been twice as high as in mostly white neighborhoods. samantha has a good-paying, essential job at a post office in harrisburg, pennsylvania. she says when her union rep claimed several of her co-workers had tested positive for the virus, she decided to take family leave, reducing her pay by one-third, in hopes of protecting herself and her girls. >> you kind of were in the position where you had to choose between the money and your family's safety and your own safety? >> yeah. >> reporter: soon after she started to fall behind on her rent. >> the check wasn't that good.
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i thought i could make it up and give it to them. >> you knew at the time you weren't paying that you owed them, but you figured these are difficult times and i'll be good for it? >> right. >> reporter: in september, samantha received a complaint notice, saying she owed about $2,000 in rent. she immediately started chipping away at her debt, sending more than $1,500 through october. a district judge had ruled that as long as she was making payments, she would be allowed to stay in her home. >> i thought giving them their money was communicating, but i guess that wasn't enough. >> reporter: despite a stay and pay order from the judge, and the fact that she'd paid more than half what was she owed, november 5th she was evicted. >> the marshals was there. i said i have the $900 now, i can get a money order. they specifically told me, we don't want your money, you've got to go now, you've got 15 minutes to get out. i begged them, i don't have nowhere else to go. >> reporter: the management company of samantha's apartment complex tells abc news in part that it complies with all state
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and federal landlord tenant laws and all orders and statutes enacted in response to covid-19. in this matter, a hearing was held in the landlord tenant court. the court ordered the eviction. that eviction has now shown up on samantha's rental background check. it can get incredibly difficult to get into a new home. >> how many places do you think you've applied to? >> i'm going to say 12. >> 12? >> 10, 12. >> you've been turned down by all of them? >> all of them. >> do they say, we've declined because you were evicted? >> yeah. i spent over $200 on application fees, and i got denied. >> reporter: samantha admits she made mistakes, including missing her court hearing. even so, she says her eviction should not have been allowed to go forward because this september, the cdc essentially banned them. the agency's emergency declaration put a provisional halt on residential evictions nationwide. >> when an eviction occurs,
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families end up doubling up or they're transi don't want, and this increases their contact with others and decreases their ability to ply with the cdc's pandemic mitigation strategies like self-quarantine or distancing. >> reporter: a study from ucla shows this summer's expired state eviction bans led to 433,000 covid cases and 10,000 deaths. to qualify for the cdc protection, renters have to earn less than $99,000 as individuals or $198,000 for couples, show that they've asked for government rental assistance, declare the pandemic has created financial hardship, and declare that they'd be homeless if evicted. samantha didn't learn about that cdc protection until it was too late. she was unable to wage a legal battle. >> i don't have $500 to pay for a lawyer every day. to take them to court. >> reporter: with nowhere else to turn, she ended up moving in here with her sister and her niece, creating the exact situation the cdc has been trying to prevent.
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>> my 11-year-old, she's upset. she doesn't have her room anymore. she likes to be alone right now. she's at that age. she can't really do it right now. >> for children, eviction is particularly traumatizing. it ends up resulting in a move to communities with poor-performing schools, higher crimes, substandard living environments. >> you presented to your landlord that protection for eviction? >> here's our card if you know anyone else in the same situation. >> great, i know a lot of people. >> reporter: housing advocate caleb sets up outside the district court in harrisburg. >> did you have a hearing with your landlord? >> reporter: alerting tenants of the cdc order before they go in for their eviction hearings. landlords are not required to inform tenants that the order even exists. caleb says some lan lords are finding loopholes to get out of honoring it. >> one of the biggest issues the cdc order is the clause that states, it only covers cases of nonpayment of rent. so landlords can say that the
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lease is expired, the lease is being terminated, there was some violation of the lease. when they do that, they can then sue for possession. >> reporter: another issue is that interpretation of the cdc order is left up to judges. >> in a lot of cases they side with the landlords almost across the board. the numbers of people we're having to talk to that are in tragic situations, it's rising week to week. >> are you here for the eviction system? >> reporter: once evictions have been ordered it's up to law enforcement to carry them out. for houston constable alan rosen, that process is crushing. >> it's the worst. the absolute worst part of my job. >> reporter: after overseeing eviction after eviction in his precinct, that empathy drove him to raise money for a new eviction clinic where people could get legal help for free to fight back. my colleague marcus moore stopped by. >> the families have said, this is the first time they've ever had to get any kind of help. >> i can't tell you how many landlords that the courts ask
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the question, has this tenant ever not paid their rent? they've said, no, they've always paid on time. if they pay their rent on time and they've been good tenants, work with them. >> reporter: melissa flores is one of those people. single mother with an 11-year-old daughter. for the first time needs help. >> i've never been in this situation. never in my life, never. >> reporter: she says as a house cleaner, there hasn't been work during the pandemic. now she can't pay her $920 a month rent. >> i've always made it through everything. struggled a little, but i've made it. but never this bad. >> reporter: for now, melissa's received the help she needs. the constable's clinic helped her invoke the cdc order to stave off her eviction. but this is a temporary bandage for a still-looming problem as the cdc order expires december 31st. >> do you know what you will do come january? >> only god knows. i don't know.
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to be honest with you, i don't know. just got to wait till that day gets here. >> we have to be fair to the landlords as well from this, because they have mortgage payments to pay, they have property taxes to pay, they have insurance to pay, they have repairs to make. >> the cdc can't go in and say, we have picked a winner and a loser, and tenants don't have to pay anymore, landlords have to provide free housing. the cdc does not have that authority. >> reporter: caleb is a lawyer with the new civil liberties alliance. his organization is representing several landlords pro bono in a lawsuit against the cdc order. he says the order is a troubling example of government overreach. >> we filed this lawsuit to tell the cdc, and other agencies, that they cannot get away with this kind of behavior. >> is it just simply, we need to follow the rules no matter what? >> we need to follow the rules that the constitution set. the cdc is a public health
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organization, they're not a housing policy organization, they're not congress. >> are you aware of landlords that are starting that eviction process in hopes that the cdc order will soon expire and they can move forward? >> what we do know is once the cdc eviction order ends, there will suddenly be a lot of action in housing court across the country. there will likely be a wave of eviction lawsuits. >> reporter: emily wrote an amicus brief supporting the cdc and the lawsuit, that case now on appeal. >> eviction is a jagged slide with no ladder back up. and this is something that our country will be recovering from for generations to come. >> reporter: renters who successfully used the cdc order before it expires are responsible for paying back the rent they missed, but that's going to take a staggering amount of money. by january, renters willow an estimated $34 billion. >> this is one of the reasons
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why we need rent relief from congress as quickly as possible. >> how worried are you? >> very worried. it is very hard. the holidays coming, it's about to be christmas and new year's, i ain't got nowhere to go. >> our thanks to trevor. coming up, the split decision over whether to invite lori loughlin's daughter to defend herself. so, what should we do today? ♪ wow. can we get some sun? ♪ uh, mom? can we go to the beach? (beep beep beep) should we just go see a movie? yes! i'm always up for a good movie. go rogue in the all-new, fiercely reimagined nissan rogue.
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♪ lori loughlin's daughter, olivia jade, is looking to redeem herself after her parents
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charged in a college admissions bribery scandal were sent to prison. did the appeal do more harm than good? >> how are you feeling? >> i'm nervous. you guys should feel my heart. >> reporter: it was billed as olivia jade's moment of truth. >> what happened was wrong. and i think every single person in my family can be like, that was messed up, that was a big mistake. >> reporter: the daughter of "full house" actress lori loughlin and millionaire fashion designer massimo giannulli, talking about the fallout of her parents' fraud which got her into a prestigious college. >> make sure it's dry and clean -- >> reporter: the 21-year-old beauty vlogger with over 1 million followers sat with host jada pinkett smith, mother adrienne, ask daughter willow, on "red table talk." >> it's been hard. i think it's necessary for us to move on and move forward. >> reporter: talking publicly for the first time about the varsity blues scandal that landed her parents in prison.
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>> i don't deserve pity, we messed up. i just want a second chance to be like, i recognize i messed up. >> reporter: while she seemed remorseful, how, when, and where she made her apology was met with skepticism. >> what was your reaction to olivia jade's conversation? >> i think that she was kind of walking into a lose-lose situation. because i think the general public doesn't have much sympathy for this situation at all. the fact that her argument was essentially, i didn't know any better because i grew up in a bubble where it was normal for people to pay their way into college? that just seems very tone deaf, really, at any time. because the far majority of people cannot afford to pay their way into college, they have to work hard, and they're paying loans for decades on end. and there's so many bigger issues, frankly, going on right now. >> reporter: in fact, bringing her on the show causing a split between jada pinkett smith and her mom, cohost adrienne
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banfield norris. >> i fought it tooth and nail. i just found it really ironic that she chose three black women to reach out to for her redemption story. >> when i heard her story, it just reminded me of jade and willow and trey. >> it didn't remind me of them at all. >> it did for me. >> she essentially said that, i didn't know what the world was outside of living in mansions and getting everything paid for. but the fact that she wasn't aware of that prior to this whole experience is very problematic. >> when you come to the table with something like this, it's like, child, please. >> right. no, i get that. >> i'm exhausted. >> reporter: in march 2019, the u.s. attorney's office in boston charging 33 rich and powerful parents, accusing them of doling out over $25 million to this man, william rick singer, to help get their kids into some of
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the nation's most elite colleges. >> we believe everyone charged here today had a role in fostering a culture of corruption and greed that created an uneven playing field for students trying to get into these schools the right way. >> reporter: the investigation uncovered bribes to exam officials to cheat on standardized tests and payoffs for coaches with athletic slots. even staging photos of students who never played sports, including giannulli and her older sister, isabella rose, who posed as rowers. the parents pleaded guilty for paying nearly $500,000 to get their girls into the university of southern california. >> i was a little confused. i remember writing on my application about my youtube channel and vid-con, and they were different things. >> reporter: in the aftermath she came under fire for glib social media posts and leaning
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into her privilege. >> game pays, partying, i don't care about school. >> reporter: many sponsors dropped her. >> at a time during the pandemic, when people are struggling to put food on the table, when they are dealing with crushing student loan debt, how does this kind of apology tour come across? >> i think the apology tour can come across as quite selfish to many people, when they're sitting there unable to pay their rent, unable to put food on the table, we're in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic. i think a lot of people's reaction to this was, why did you say anything at all? >> reporter: whether this was the right thing for giannulli's brand is an open question. up next, the vital real-life health care workers turned marvel superheroes. is often unseen. because the pain you're feeling
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"the vitals." marvel spotlighting the stories of the essential workers with the allegheny health network in pennsylvania. >> even though we don't think of ourselves as heroes, it's a good feeling to be recognized as one. >> it's having compassion, caring for people, having that sense of empathy for what people are going through. i think that's a pretty awesome superpower to have. >> and their relentless fight to beat the worst villain of 2020. >> we're just doing our everyday jobs, what we love. >> and here's to the good guys. that's "nightline." you can watch our full episodes on hulu. we'll see you right back here same time tomorrow. thanks for staying up with us. good night, america.
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