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The future for tens of millions of renters in the U.S. has grown suddenly darker now that the Supreme Court struck down a federal moratorium on evictions that served as a critical stopgap measure for countless communities devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But what happens now, and when一how quickly courts process eviction filings and whether state and local governments will step in to assist renters一is not exactly clear, says Dan O’Brien, associate professor of public policy and urban affairs.

Housing experts have said that a tsunami of evictions would follow the end of the moratorium, but O’Brien says that given how long eviction proceedings normally take, such a backlog may be more of a dribbling out.

Either way, the impact on society at large, as more people are evicted and forced into homeless shelters and in other congregate settings, is not good一particularly as the pandemic rages on and the highly contagious delta variant continues to spread, O’Brien says.

“People who are deeply vulnerable, and who had been made more vulnerable by the pandemic, are now basically awaiting sentencing, as it were,” he says. “An eviction is already a pretty bad thing to experience, to put it bluntly. Not only do you get kicked out, but you now have this black mark on your record.”