Miami Herald

Biden to allow eviction moratorium to expire Saturday


The Biden administra­tion announced Thursday it will allow a nationwide ban on evictions to expire Saturday, arguing that its hands are tied after the Supreme Court signaled the moratorium would only be extended until the end of the month.

The White House said President Joe Biden would have liked to extend the federal eviction moratorium due to spread of the highly contagious delta variant of the coronaviru­s. Instead, Biden called on “Congress to extend the eviction moratorium to protect such vulnerable renters and their families without delay.”

Aides to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Sherrod Brown, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, said the two are working on legislatio­n to extend the moratorium. Democrats will try to pass a bill as soon as possible and are urging Republican­s not to block it.

The moratorium was put in place last September by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Given the recent spread of the delta variant, including among those Americans both most likely to face evictions and lacking vaccinatio­ns, President Biden would have strongly supported a decision by the CDC to further extend this eviction moratorium to protect renters at this moment of heightened vulnerabil­ity,” the White House said in a statement. “Unfortunat­ely, the Supreme Court has made clear that this option is no longer available.”

The court mustered a bare 5-4 majority last month, to allow the eviction ban to continue through the end of July. One of those in the majority, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, made clear he would block any additional extensions unless there was “clear and specific congressio­nal authorizat­ion.”

By the end of March, 6.4 million American households were behind on their rent, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Developmen­t. As of July 5, roughly 3.6 million people in the U.S. said they faced eviction in the next two months, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in June this would be the last time the moratorium would be extended when she set the deadline for July 31. It was initially put in place to prevent further spread of COVID-19 by people put out on the streets and into shelters.

Housing advocates and some lawmakers have called for the moratorium to be extended due to the increase in coronaviru­s cases and the fact so little rental assistance has been distribute­d.

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, while several have only approved a few million dollars.

“The confluence of the surging delta variant with 6.5 million families behind on rent and at risk of eviction when the moratorium expires demands immediate action,” said Diane Yentel, executive director of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

“The public health necessity of extended protection­s for renters is obvious. If federal court cases made a broad extension impossible, the Biden administra­tion should implement all possible alternativ­es, including a more limited moratorium on federally backed properties.”

Gene Sperling, who is charged with overseeing implementa­tion of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronaviru­s rescue package, said it was key that states and local authoritie­s speed up the rental assistance distributi­on.

“The message is that there are no excuses,” he told The Associated Press.

“States and cities across the country have shown these programs can work, that they can get money out the door effectivel­y and efficientl­y,” he continued. “The fact that some states and cities are showing they can do this efficientl­y and effectivel­y makes clear that there is no reason that every state and city shouldn’t be accelerati­ng their funds to landlords and tenants, particular­ly in light of the end of the CDC eviction moratorium.”

The trouble getting rental assistance to those who need it has prompted the Biden administra­tion to hold several events in the past month aimed at pressuring states and cities to increase their distributi­on, coax landlords to participat­e and make it easier for tenants to get money directly.

Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta also has released an open letter to state courts around the country encouragin­g them to pursue measures that would keep eviction cases out of the courts. On Wednesday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unveiled a tool that allows tenants to find informatio­n about rental assistance in their area.

Despite these efforts, some Democratic lawmakers had demanded the administra­tion extend the moratorium.

This week, the National Apartment Associatio­n and several others this week filed a federal lawsuit asking for $26 billion in damages due to the impact of the moratorium.

 ?? ELISE AMENDOLA AP ?? Thursday, President Joe Biden called on ‘Congress to extend the eviction moratorium to protect such vulnerable renters and their families without delay.’
ELISE AMENDOLA AP Thursday, President Joe Biden called on ‘Congress to extend the eviction moratorium to protect such vulnerable renters and their families without delay.’

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