Thursday’s announcement by the Biden administration was that it would allow Saturday’s nationwide ban on evictions, which it claimed is necessary because the Supreme Court had indicated that the moratorium would be extended only until the end the month.
According to the White House, President Joe Biden would like to extend the federal moratorium on evictions due to the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus delta variant. Biden instead called for Congress to immediately extend the eviction moratorium in order to protect these vulnerable renters and their families.
The White House released a statement saying that “Given recent spread of the Delta variant, including among Americans most likely to face evictions or lack vaccinations, President Biden would strongly support a decision made by the CDC, to further extend the eviction moratorium in order to protect renters during this time of heightened vulnerability,”. “Unfortunately, this option is no more available as the Supreme Court has clarified.”
According to senator Sherrod Brown, who is the chairman of Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, and Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Leader, both Senators, they are currently working on legislation to prolong the moratorium. Democrats are encouraging Republicans to not block the bill and will work to pass it as quickly as possible.
Thursday’s House vote saw a bill introduced to extend the moratorium through the end of the current year. However, it was not clear if there would be a legislative solution.
The court mustered a bare 5-4 majority last month, to allow the eviction ban to continue through the end of July. Justice Brett Kavanaugh was one of the majority and stated that he would not allow any extensions unless Congress had given him permission.
According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, 6.4 million households in America were in arrears with their rent by March 31. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, 3.6 million Americans were facing eviction within the next two-months as of July 5.
Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Rochelle Walensky stated in June that this would be the final time that the moratorium would ever be extended. She set the July 31 deadline. It was originally put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 among people who were forced to live on streets or into shelters.
Some lawmakers and housing advocates have asked for an extension of the moratorium due to an increase in coronavirus cases, and because so little rental assistance has been provided.
Nearly $47 billion has been allocated by Congress to assist tenants in paying back months of rent. Only $3 billion of the initial $25 billion tranche has been distributed by states and localities through June. New York, for example, has distributed virtually nothing while other states have approved only a few million dollars.
Diane Yentel (executive director of the National Low Income Housing Coalition) stated that “The confluence between the surging Delta variant with 6.5million families behind on rent, and at risk of eviction once the moratorium expires requires immediate action.”
“The public health need for extended protections to renters is evident. The Biden administration should consider all options, even a less restrictive moratorium on federally-backed properties, if a broad extension is not possible due to federal court rulings.
Gene Sperling is responsible for overseeing the implementation of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue plan. He stated that it was crucial that both states and local authorities accelerate rental assistance distribution.
He stated that “the message is that there’s no excuses,” to The Associated Press.
He said, “States across the country have demonstrated that these programs work, and that they can get money to the door efficiently and effectively,” he added. “The fact that certain states and cities have shown they can do it efficiently and effectively shows that there’s no reason why every state or city shouldn’t be accelerating funds to landlords/tenants, especially in light of the CDC eviction moratorium.”
Biden administration has held several events over the past month to try to press states and cities to increase rental assistance, encourage landlords to take part and make it easier to obtain money directly from tenants.
Vanita Gupta, Associate Attorney General, has also sent an open letter encouraging state courts to take steps to keep eviction cases from going to the courts. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a tool Wednesday that allows tenants to search for information about rental assistance in their local area.
Despite all these efforts, some Democratic legislators demanded that the administration extend its moratorium.
“This pandemic will not end and federal housing policies must reflect this stark reality. The United States is facing the worst eviction crisis in its recent history. Our local and state governments need more time to distribute crucial rental assistance to keep our constituents’ heads above water,” Democratic U.S. Reps. Cori Bus of Missouri, Jimmy Gomez from California, and AyannaPressley of Massachusetts stated in a joint statement.
However, landlords opposed any extension of the moratorium. They have repeatedly challenged it in court. They argued that the goal should be to speed up the distribution and allocation of rental assistance.
The National Apartment Association, along with several other groups, filed a federal lawsuit this week requesting $26 billion in damages for the effects of the moratorium.
Bob Pinnegar, president and CEO of the association, stated that any extension to the eviction moratorium would equate to an unfunded mandate that forces housing providers and saddle renters with insurmountable amounts. He also said that the current crisis underscores the need for affordable housing.
He said, “Our nation faces an alarming housing affordability crisis on the horizon — It’s past time that the government enact responsible sustainable solutions that prioritize making both renters whole and housing providers whole.”