The Biden administration is expected to announce a new moratorium on evictions in communities with high or substantial COVID-19 transmission, the latest measure to protect renters during the ongoing pandemic.
A formal announcement is expected Wednesday.
“My hope is it’s going to be a new moratorium that in some way covers close to 90 percent of the American people or renters,” President Joe Biden told reporters Tuesday.
The president expressed fears that the order would face court battles after the Supreme Court ruled that an extension to the original moratorium that expired Saturday could not occur without clear and specific congressional authorization via new legislation.
Still, members of Congress who had pressed the administration to act applauded the president.
“From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of millions of renters, I thank the president for listening and for encouraging the CDC to act,” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), chair of the House Committee on Financial Services, said in a statement “This extension of the moratorium is the lifeline that millions of families have been waiting for. From the very beginning of this pandemic, it was clear that eviction moratoriums not only kept people housed but also saved lives.
Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.), a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, concurred.
“Today, the Biden administration answered our call to provide a lifeline to millions of Americans at risk of eviction,” Gomez said. ”This new executive order represents the degree of empathy and responsiveness that this national health emergency demands.”
The Biden administration has repeated its assertion that there remains about $44 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds available to states and municipalities to thwart evictions.
The American Rescue Plan provided nearly $47 billion in aid, but states and local governments have used just $3 billion.
“We need to continue working with local and state governments to ensure all of the funds Congress allocated reaches our constituents,” Gomez said. “While my House Democratic colleagues work to secure sustainable housing solutions for the most vulnerable among us, I’d like to extend my appreciation to President Biden for helping us pursue every available option to keep our constituents healthy and in their homes.”
On Saturday, Gomez, Waters and several of their congressional colleagues sent a letter reiterating their ongoing calls for Biden and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky to extend the federal eviction moratorium.
“As chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, I have made it a priority of mine to ensure that both renters and landlords are supported,” Waters said “That is why I secured nearly $50 billion in emergency rental assistance that would go directly into the pockets of landlords to cover every penny of back rent they are owed and keep struggling families housed throughout the pandemic. I urged corporate landlords not to evict tenants, met with members of the Biden administration to expedite and simplify the emergency rental assistance program, and introduced legislation to protect renters from evictions.”
African-American renters in D.C. spend more than 30 percent of their monthly income on rent. They constitute the highest among the District’s housing insecure, most likely to face eviction following the end of the federal rent moratorium which has just been extended to Oct. 3. A growing fear among housing advocates and others is rooted in the belief that if left unchecked, D.C. residents will join millions of displaced and homeless individuals and families across the country washed away in an eviction tsunami. Next week, we will begin a three-part series written by contributing writer Barrington Salmon in which we examine the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on housing security through the stories of tenants, landlords and policy leaders that occupy the front lines of protecting and preserving safe and affordable housing for D.C. renters.