The Biden administration reversed course this week and issued a new federal eviction moratorium on Aug. 3, responding to pressure from progressive Democrats to allow more time for billions in rent relief appropriated by Congress to reach tenants and landlords. (CDC news release and Wall Street Journal, Aug. 4)
New 60-Day Eviction Ban
- The new ban from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is in effect until Oct 3.
- It applies to about 80% of U.S. counties with “substantial” or “high” COVID-19 transmission rates, and covers about 90% of the U.S. population. ( Reuters, Aug 4 and CDC order, Aug. 3)
- The previous eviction moratorium expired on July 31. A U.S. Supreme Court majority in June indicated the federal-level ban exceeded CDC’s authority.
- President Biden initially stated that the Supreme Court’s action prevented another CDC extension, and called on Congress to pass 11th-hour legislation establishing a new moratorium. House Democrats last Friday failed to muster enough last-minute votes to pass an extension. ( The Hill, July 30; Roundtable Weekly, July 30)
Legal Challenge Redux
- Upon the Administration’s about-face in issuing the new moratorium, President Biden said it is “likely to face obstacles” in court. (White House remarks, Aug. 3 and Associated Press, Aug. 4)
- The latest eviction ban prompted the Alabama and Georgia Associations of Realtors to file an emergency motion in D.C. federal trial court before the same judge who previously ruled that the CDC had overstepped its authority in imposing the first eviction moratorium. (Politico and Washington Post and National Association of Realtors’ statement, Aug. 4)
Need to Accelerate Federal Rent Assistance
- The Realtor groups’ motion adds more pressure on state and localities to distribute billions allocated by federal policymakers to assist renters and housing providers – an effort that has faced severe bottlenecks and delays.
- Only 6.5 percent of $46.5 billion allocated by Congress for rental aid has found its way to state and localities in the first half of 2021, according to a recent Treasury Department report. (Washington Post, July 21 and Bloomberg and July 22)
- Treasury’s Emergency Rental Assistance program, overseen by Senior Advisor to the President Gene Sperling, now faces a 60-day race for states and localities to distribute funds to tenants and landlords while the newest CDC order is in effect.
Sperling stated during an Aug. 2 White House press conference that the Emergency Rental Assistance is “so important [because] it helps struggling landlords and struggling tenants. It can pay up to 18 month, forward or backwards, of back rent or back utilities. So, it is a way to make a landlord, who is struggling, whole, while also keeping that tenant and their family safe and secure.”
# # #