Eviction Moratorium: A bill was introduced in the House last Thursday to extend the moratorium until the end of the year. Here’s what both sides are saying. To have stories like this and more delivered directly to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.
Top Story: Eviction Moratorium
On Saturday, the national ban on evictions expired. The Biden administration would have preferred to extend the moratorium. However, officials said their hands were tied after the Supreme Court ruled last month that the ban could only continue through the end of July. As of July 5, roughly 3.6 million people in the US said they faced eviction in the next two months. Some states are going rogue. Most landlords in California can’t move forward with evictions until October and renters in New Jersey can’t be kicked out of their homes until January. Biden called on Congrees to “extend the eviction moratorium to protect such vulnerable renters and their families without delay.” A bill was introduced in the House last Thursday to extend the moratorium until the end of the year. Here’s what both sides are saying.
On The Right
Landlords oppose the eviction moratorium and do not want it to be extended. They’ve challenged the ban repeatedly in court and believe there should be more focus on expediting distribution of rental assistance. In general — not 100% of the time, but in general — Republicans agree with this stance.
“Rebuking a Lawless CDC” Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal: “Congress passed the eviction ban amid the pandemic and extended it through Jan. 31 of this year. But the CDC then chose on its own, without a new command from Congress, to extend the ban three times, most recently through July 31. [This means] the CDC interpreted a sentence to give itself expanded power to do whatever it wants in the name of public health … Federal and state governments have too often used the pandemic as a license to restrict liberty without a legal basis. The courts have taken some time to catch up to this lawlessness, and some judges now are. … Without a legal rebuke, the CDC might extend the ban again or take it up in the future. … The fight to rein in the runaway administrative state is crucial to retaining the liberty Americans have left. So congratulations to a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals for unanimously ruling against the federal moratorium.”
“Do We Really Need a Moratorium on Evictions?” Michael Hendrix, Governing.com: “Is an eviction tsunami still just over the horizon? Tenant activists and progressive lawmakers seem to think so… But let’s back up. Some 3.7 million evictions are filed in a typical year… Yet in March, the Government Accountability Office found that the CDC’s eviction limits had little impact on filings. … For those facing eviction, only about one in eight took advantage of the CDC moratorium. It turns out that the nation’s primary public health protection agency isn’t very good at implementing housing policy. … Most of the places that removed eviction bans in May and June last year didn’t see a resulting surge in evictions. Even in states and cities that did see a spike, they were all less than pre-COVID levels. … Helping renters receive financial aid and get better terms from property owners would do far more to avert painful evictions. Nearly $50 billion in federal rent relief money is now available to renters. … Ultimately, abundant housing is the best tenant protection — which we won’t get as long as stringent and ineffectual eviction moratoria are in place.”
“Stop Extending the Eviction Moratorium” Howard Husock, City Journal: “The push to make evictions more difficult, or even to ban them outright, is a misguided effort that threatens the income of rental-property owners of modest means and puts at risk the safety and building maintenance of tenants who do pay their rent. … Nationwide, only 12 percent of those facing eviction took advantage of the CDC moratorium to avoid it. … Extending the eviction moratorium past June 30 would likely have a disproportionate impact on mom-and-pop rental property owners. … Extending forbearance for small property owners on mortgage payments can help, but many landlords rely on rental income not just to pay for life’s necessities but also for repairs and maintenance. Evictions are thus an important tool for landlords to maintain their properties for the overwhelming majority of tenants who pay rent in a timely manner. … To treat eviction as a problem in isolation, rather than as one aspect of an overall housing ecosystem, risks distorting the market and harming the property owners and tenants who work hard and play by the rules.”
On The Left
Housing advocates are calling for the moratorium to be extended in light of increasing coronavirus cases. They also point out how little rental assistance has been distributed. The Associated Press notes that “Congress has allocated nearly $47 billion in assistance that is supposed to go to help tenants pay off months of back rent. But so far, only about $3 billion of the first tranche of $25 billion has been distributed through June by states and localities. Some states like New York have distributed almost nothing.” In general — not 100% of the time, but in general — Democrats agree with this stance.
“The eviction moratorium is about to expire – and the situation is dire” Emily Benfer and Peter Hepburn, The Guardian: “If historic patterns are any indication, the United States could experience a steep increase in eviction filings when the moratorium expires. Data from the Census Pulse survey indicate that more than 10 million tenants are behind on rent, and only a small fraction of the emergency rental assistance allocated by Congress has made it to tenants and landlords. … unnecessary Covid-19 infection and death are almost guaranteed. … Federal, state and local policymakers … should immediately adopt mechanisms that prevent eviction filings until rental assistance can be distributed… These solutions begin to scratch the surface, but to achieve lasting change, the eviction process – which disproportionately affects historically marginalized groups, women and children – must be fundamentally reformed. … President Biden’s housing plan, which includes more than $318bn to create or preserve affordable housing, is a crucial start. Whether Congress will recognize the importance of housing stability and equity to the nation’s health and well-being remains to be seen.”
“Short-term fixes aren’t enough to solve America’s looming eviction crisis” Kathryn Reynolds and Abby Boshart, CNN: “After the CDC’s national eviction moratorium expires on July 31, millions of renters could lose their homes. … The good news, though, is that some states and localities are rushing to institute short-term eviction prevention policies… These short-term efforts shouldn’t end when the current crisis subsides. … On average, 3.6 million evictions were filed each year in the US before Covid-19, with evictions disproportionately affecting women of color and single parents and their children. … Changing national eviction policy and local court practices is critical to address the nation’s long-term eviction crisis. … To start, researchers, policymakers and advocates need better and more uniform data on evictions. … As a first step, the federal government could provide funding and technical assistance to help states and local communities create their own eviction databases. … A national right to counsel would also give renters a fairer shot in the justice system. … Finally, and most importantly, all of these steps are necessary because we don’t have a strong housing safety net. [The government should] expand rental assistance permanently to the many households who qualify. … Long-term solutions are the only way to guarantee every family has a home, not only during a pandemic, but always.”
“We Have to Act Now to Stop the Coming US Eviction Crisis” Fran Quigle, Jacobin: “The United States is on the precipice of a post-pandemic eviction crisis. More than half of all renter households lost employment income between March 2020 and March of this year, causing one in five of those households to fall behind on rent. For black renter households, fully 29 percent owe past-due rent. … There are multiple steps the federal government can and should take to stave off this crisis, and to fix the underlying injustices that are causing it. … In the short term, the Biden administration should extend the CDC moratorium… [The government should also make] the housing choice voucher program universal. … But a voucher expansion cannot be the long-term solution… We should move our housing billions out of the private market and into social housing, built on a foundation of full public-sector ownership and management. In so doing, we will commit to democratic control of housing, which will minimize costs and include mechanisms to remedy race and income segregation.”
Flag This: Eviction Moratorium
According to a poll released on May 29 by Opportunity Starts at Home, 89% of respondents favor a nationwide policy that stops all evictions. 93% of those polled favor providing emergency rental assistance and 90% favor expanding funding for homeless assistance programs.
Flag This: If there’s a middle ground, it’s that both sides are calling for rental assistance to be distributed at a much faster pace. So why is this taking so long? Well, NBC News said they contacted all 50 states and the District of Columbia about their emergency rental assistance programs. “The reasons the aid hasn’t reached frustrated landlords and nervous tenants are complex, from the inevitable stumbles that come with setting up new programs to software woes to varied degrees of hesitancy among states to sign off on payments without extensive documentation of need.”
Quite frankly, states and localities are probably right to worry about proof that people actually need the assistance because of what’s happened with other pandemic programs. As much as $400 billion in unemployment benefits may have been fraudulent, according to one estimate by ID.me. That amounts to about 50% of unemployment money. Worst of all, according to Axios, experts think “at least 70% of the money stolen by impostors ultimately left the country, much of it ending up in the hands of criminal syndicates in China, Nigeria, Russia and elsewhere.” Calling for expedited rental assistance is one thing. Making sure it actually reaches the people who need it is another.
Flag Poll: Eviction Moratorium
Do you think the federal eviction moratorium should be extended? Comment below to share your thoughts.