Editorial

EDITORIAL: Renters Saved Until Eviction Moratorium Ends

A lifeline was thrown to millions of renters across the country on July 31 when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it would extend the federal moratorium on evictions to Oct. 3. Even with unemployment rates declining, and the economy growing, too many Americans are still economically insecure and most have not rebounded from the devastating losses of jobs and income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In D.C., more than 15,000 residents are reportedly at risk of becoming homeless when the eviction moratorium is lifted. And, according to D.C. officials, not enough of them are tapping into the rental assistance provided by the federally funded STAY DC program aimed at preventing residents from being evicted from their homes.

Mayor Muriel Bowser has left no stones unturned in her efforts to promote the $352 million fund to ward off evictions and to help pay for utilities. The bottom line, however, is that she can’t make them apply. Efforts have been made to reduce the barriers and to make the eviction application process more user-friendly. Still, what D.C. doesn’t spend for rental assistance will have to be returned to the federal government, so the pressure is on to help every resident who needs it, and by doing so, it also helps every small landlord that needs help, as well.

What the CDC understands is that massive evictions would lead to an exacerbated public health crisis. The delta variant signals the need for more Americans to get vaccinated in order to stop the spread of the more infectious disease spreading among adults who are unvaccinated and children too young to be vaccinated.

“This moratorium is the right thing to do to keep people in their homes and out of congregate settings where COVID-19 spreads,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. “Such mass evictions and the attendant public health consequences would be very difficult to reverse.”

There may be another eviction extension in October, but we urge renters not to wait and see. Take charge of your affairs now and go hard on getting the financial assistance you need. Don’t allow the goodheartedness of federal and local officials to be a reason to relax, or the pandemic to be an excuse for not taking care of your business. The landlords, the lawyers, the courts and the marshals are prepared to proceed when the eviction moratorium is lifted. Make sure they won’t be coming for you.

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