That’s the question many renters are asking after the Supreme Court overturned the Biden administration’s federal moratorium on evictions.
The court ruled 6-3 Thursday that only Congress could extend the moratorium and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention went beyond its authority in prolonging it. The CDC had extended the moratorium, initially set to expire on July 31, to Oct. 3.
The decision grants landlords the ability to move forward with evictions and blocks protections given to renters during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It would be one thing if Congress had specifically authorized the action that the CDC has taken. But that has not happened,” the judges wrote in their opinion. “Instead, the CDC has imposed a nationwide moratorium on evictions in reliance on a decades-old statute that authorizes it to implement measures like fumigation and pest extermination. It strains credulity to believe that this statute grants the CDC the sweeping authority that it asserts.”
In a dissenting opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer said the recent uptick in COVID-19 transmission rates was disturbing, and he warned that evictions would lead to significant public health consequences.
But the court ultimately determined that if a federally imposed eviction moratorium continues, Congress must expressly authorize it.
The White House rebuked the decision, again calling on states and municipalities to use the American Rescue Plan money to aid renters and reimburse landlords.
“In light of the Supreme Court ruling and the continued risk of COVID-19 transmission, President Biden is once again calling on all entities that can prevent evictions — from cities and states to local courts, landlords, Cabinet Agencies — to urgently act to prevent evictions,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
Initially issued in September 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Supreme Court let stand the eviction ban in June. However, after the ban expired last month, landlord associations again pressed for an end.
The District of Columbia maintains a local ban on evictions that extends to Jan. 1. Both landlord and tenant can seek assistance from the city, Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office has stated.
The District has received more than $2.3 billion in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan, and Bowser has earmarked more than $500 million to various programs to build more affordable housing or refurbish existing housing.
James Wright contributed to this story.