Thursday’s extension of the nationwide ban against evictions by the Biden administration was to assist millions of tenants who were unable to pay rent during , the coronavirus pandemic. However, the Biden administration stated that this is not the last time they will do so.
The evictions moratorium was extended by Dr. Rochelle Walensky (director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), from June 30 to July 31. According to the CDC, “this is the last extension of the moratorium.”
Officials from the Biden administration stated that the last month will be used to launch an “all hands ondeck” multi-agency campaign in order to stop a wave of evictions. The moratorium was placed in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 among people who were already living on the streets or in shelters.
According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, 6.4 million households in America were behind on rent as of March 31st. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, 3.2 million Americans faced eviction within the next two-months as of June 7.
Tenants on the brink of losing their homes were relieved by the news. The only thing that saved them was the CDC moratorium.
Cristina Livingston (55-year-old mother of 2 from Bay Harbor Islands in Florida), was one of them. She lost her job as administrative assistant during the pandemic. Because her landlord refused, she was unable to get federal rental assistance to cover the $14,000 back rent.
“Ah, great. “Ah, great. I just need a little more time. Livingston stated that she just needs the time to leave this place in a dignified manner. She said that her greatest fear was being evicted without any notice and then finding a job.
She said, “It’s been an awful experience.” “I’ve never been in such a situation. It’s killing my soul because I fear that someone will come and rescue me. “I don’t have anywhere to go.”
Ronald Leonard, a retired heavy equipment operator from Daytona Beach aged 68, was being threatened with eviction from his apartment. His landlord is also refusing federal assistance to pay $5,000 back rent.
“I don’t need to worry about July anymore.” Leonard said that he feels a lot better, but still fears being forced onto the streets after the moratorium ends. It’s very heartbreaking. It is not going to turn out well for all of us. I’m not in good health anymore. It’s impossible for me to live on the streets.”
There was much administration activity in the wake of Thursday’s extension announcement. New guidance was issued by the Treasury Department encouraging states and local governments in order to simplify distribution of nearly $47 billion worth of emergency rental assistance funding. Vanita Gupta, Associate Attorney General, wrote an open letter encouraging state courts to explore a variety of options that would protect tenants as well as landlords.
Gupta states in his letter that “eviction filings will overwhelm courts across the nation” unless further steps are taken.
Wednesday’s White House acknowledgement was that emergency pandemic protection , which had been extended prior , must end. It is important to find the right kind of off-ramp that will allow the transition to take place without causing major social disruption.
Gupta encourages state courts to do all they can to stop or delay evictions in his letter to them.
She states that “Losing your home can have devastating economic and psychological consequences.” “The whole legal community, including the Department of Justice and the bar, has an obligation ensure that every person has equal and meaningful access to justice before they face such consequences.”
This includes giving tenants as much notice as possible and making sure landlords and tenants are informed about any emergency relief funds available.
She refers to steps taken by state courts in Texas and Michigan, and directs them to an online assessment tool created by the National Center for State Courts. This will help jurisdictions decide the best model.
Numerous members of Congress sent a letter to President Joe Biden, requesting that the moratorium be extended and strengthened.
The letter was spearheaded by Democratic Reps Ayanna Pressley in Massachusetts, Jimmy Gomez from California, and Cori Bush (Mo.) who called for an unspecified extension that would allow emergency rental assistance contained in the American Rescue Plan into the hands of tenants.
They said that ending the assistance too quickly would be a disproportionately bad thing for some of the minorities most affected by the virus which has claimed the lives of more than 600,000. They also agreed with many housing advocates in calling for the protections of the moratorium to be automatic and not require any special steps by the tenant to obtain them.
The letter stated that the federal moratorium had a profound impact on the nation and that it was urgently needed to be strengthened and extended.
President of the National Low Income Housing Coalition Diane Yentel called for an extension of eviction ban “the right decision — morally and fiscally, as well as politically, and as a continuing public health measure.”
However, landlords who opposed the moratorium, and challenged it in court were against any extension. They argue that the priority should be speeding up rental assistance distribution.
Others welcomed the extension of the moratorium, but they said that the Biden administration should think about long-term solutions. This could include expanding the federal government’s housing voucher program for low income tenants. There were already 24 million people who could have benefited from this program, but they couldn’t get it — many of them of color.
“For now. The extension of the eviction moratorium will help protect millions of renters who are still owing rent. However, many renters were faced with a similar deadline months ago and will again face it next month,” Alicia Mazzara (a senior research analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities) told reporters. They need a long-term solution and not another band-aid. This is the moment for policy makers to take action and create a lasting solution.