The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently approved a one-month extension of the national moratorium on evictions that was scheduled to expire on June 30, reports The New York Times and multiple news outlets. Officials emphasized this extension will be the last one. The CDC instituted the moratorium last September to provide relief to those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and prevent a wave of evictions. The stoppage has proven to limit economic damage for renters and decreased eviction filings. CDC director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky signed the extension on June 24 and it will run through July 31.
Meanwhile, local officials and tenants rights groups have warned that ending the moratorium could lead to a new eviction crisis, although it would likely be less severe that what the United States experienced during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. White House officials urged reluctant CDC officials to extend the eviction freeze, which could give the federal government more time to distribute the $21.5 billion in emergency federal housing aid, according to The New York Times.
Administration officials are looking for other ways to limit the impact removing the moratorium could have on renters. One solution the Justice Department is pushing is to request local housing court judges to slow down the pace of evictions by requiring landlords to accept federal money dedicated to paying back rent. Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta sent a letter to state court officials asking judges to adopt a general order that would require landlords to prove they applied for federal aid prior to signing off on evictions. The letter also stated that federal funding would be offered for eviction diversion programs meant to resolve landlord-tenant disputes.
The White House also plans to hold a summit on housing affordability and evictions this month. Other measures include implementing more coordination with local officials and legal aid organizations to decrease the number of evictions after the moratorium’s lifted on July 31. Additionally, the Treasury Department is expected to deliver new guidance to help speed up the disbursement of the $21.5 billion in emergency aid included the COVID-19 pandemic relief bill.
The lag in vaccination rates in low-income communities has also played a part in eviction moratorium extension, White House officials told The New York Times. Although Walensky was initially hesitant to sign the freeze, she eventually felt that more evictions could lead to displaced tenants further spreading the virus.
“By extending the moratorium and incorporating these critical improvements to protect vulnerable renters, we can work to curtail the eviction crisis disproportionately impacting our communities of color,” 44 House Democrats wrote to Walensky.
Meanwhile, groups representing private landlords believe that the COVID-19 pandemic that justified the freeze has ended and that continuing the moratorium even for an extra four weeks would be an unwarranted government intrusion in the housing market.
“The mounting housing affordability crisis is quickly becoming a housing affordability disaster fueled by flawed eviction moratoriums, which leave renters with insurmountable debt and housing providers holding the bag,” said Bob Pinnegar, president of the National Apartment Association, a trade group representing owners of large residential buildings.
Joe Dyton can be reached at email@example.com.