CDC Issues Limited New Eviction Moratorium

August 3, 2021 by Dan McCue
U.S. Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., (right) has been camping out on the steps of the Capitol building since Sunday to rally support for an extension of the measure. (Photo by Dan McCue)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new eviction moratorium that would last until Oct. 3, as the Biden administration sought to quell intensifying criticism from progressives that it was allowing vulnerable renters to lose their homes during a pandemic.

The ban announced Tuesday could help keep millions in their homes as the coronavirus’ delta variant has spread and states have been slow to release federal rental aid.

It would temporarily halt evictions in counties with “substantial and high levels” of virus transmissions and would cover areas where 90% of the U.S. population lives.

The protection will last for 60 days until Oct. 3.

“Today is a day of extraordinary relief,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said upon learning of the extention. “Thanks to the leadership of President Biden, the imminent fear of eviction and being put out on the street has been lifted for countless families across America.  Help is Here.

“Democrats have worked tirelessly for this action, which is based on public health needs,” she continued. “This brand new moratorium will provide time for the money allocated by Congress to flow, as it helps stop the spread of the virus which is worsening due to the delta variant and protects families and landlords.  I am especially pleased about what this means to the children who have had uncertainty about their housing, their health and their education.”

The move comes after days of outcry from Democrats over the lapsed moratorium, which had been in place since the early months of the pandemic. 

The White House has insisted that its hands were tied and only Congress could pass an extension, but Democratic leaders said the Biden administration was in a position to act.

Last year, Supreme Court upheld the CDC’s moratorium, reversing a ruling from a federal appeals court June 29, but warned that a further extension of the ban beyond its July 31 deadline would exceed the agency’s authority unless Congress passed a law to expand it. 

The House did not attempt to do so until Friday, two days before the ban lapsed and one day after Biden asked Congress to extend the moratorium.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, did attempt to have an extension of the legislation passed by unanimous consent on the House floor Friday night, but  members objected and the proposal was blocked.

“No American family should have to be kicked out of their home because of the pandemic and the economic damage it has inflicted,” Hoyer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Whip James CLyburn said in a joint statement afterwards. “That’s why a moratorium was imposed on evictions and why Congress appropriated the $46.5 billion in emergency rental assistance earlier this year to state, local, territorial and tribal governments to help renters make their payments.  The eviction moratorium is set to expire at the end of Saturday, and millions of Americans could face being forced out on the streets. 

“This is an urgent matter that requires all of our efforts to resolve and demands that politics are put aside to help our fellow Americans avoid losing their homes,” they said.

Biden then asked states to more rapidly distribute the $46.5 billion in emergency rental assistance that Congress and the White House made available through the American Rescue Plan.

Despite these funds being available for distribution since February, the White House said too many States and cities have been too slow to act.

It’s unclear how the court will respond to this new moratorium, but it could at least buy states and cities more time to distribute the $45 billion in rental assistance allocated by Congress. Only an estimated $3 billion of that money had reached households by the end of June.

The president also asked the CDC to consider once again the possibility of executive action. 

Specifically, he raised the prospect of a new, 30-day eviction moratorium — focused on counties with high or substantial case rates — to protect renters. 

This temporary measure would spur States and localities to ramp up Emergency Rental Assistance programs to full speed this month, giving every landlord the opportunity to collect the rent they are owed and ensuring no eligible family gets evicted.

However White House Spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky and her team had been unable to find legal authority for a new, targeted eviction moratorium.

On Tuesday night, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. appaluded the CDC for its action.

He also applauded Rep. Cori Bush, who has been campaing out on the Capitol steps since Sunday to keep attention on the issue. The freshman congresswoman once lived in her car as a young mother and pointed to that experience to urge the White House to prevent widespread evictions.

Schumer said Bush “took her passion and turned it into amazingly effective action.”

“And I am proud of my Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate for keeping a spotlight on this issue and giving a voice to the millions of Americans who, through no fault of their own, are at risk of being evicted from their home,” he said.

“I continue to urge the administration to do all they can to pressure states, including New York, to quickly get the federal emergency rental assistance funds that Congress approved in the spring out the door to the people who need it most,” Schumer continued.

“For anyone to lose their home through no fault of their own is devastating, and it’s shameful that Republicans in Congress aren’t lifting a finger to help prevent it from happening,” he said.

Later, top Democratic leaders joined Rep. Bush on the Capitol steps.

As she wiped her eyes before a crowd at the Capitol after the CDC’s announcement, Bush said she was shedding “joyful tears.”

“My God, I don’t believe we did this,” she said. “We just did the work, just by loving folks to keep millions in their homes.”

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CDC Issues Limited New Eviction Moratorium

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new eviction moratorium that would last until Oct. 3, as the Biden administration sought to quell intensifying criticism from progressives that it was allowing vulnerable renters to lose their homes during a pandemic. The ban announced Tuesday... Read More

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