Tuesday’s announcement by the Biden administration was that a federal moratorium of evictions will be in place of the longer one that expired last weekend. It will be for two months.
The new moratorium would take effect in areas where COVID-19 has been on the rise and last through Oct. 3, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. This moratorium is for counties with high or significant levels of coronavirus. It covers approximately 90% of the U.S.
Millions of Americans fell behind in their rent during the pandemic without a federal moratorium. They were forced to evict themselves, depending on state policies.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of CDC, stated that the moratorium was “the right thing” to keep people at home and away from places where COVID-19 could spread.
She stated that it would be difficult to reverse mass evictions like those which have negative health effects on the public.
Biden stated previously that he didn’t have the legal authority to extend the moratorium. He asked Congress to take action. Monday, Biden said he wasn’t sure if a new ban will pass constitutional muster. Constitutional scholars suggested it might not. However, the president stated that it would help Americans temporarily.
Biden stated that “By the time this gets litigated it will probably give some more time.”
The Supreme Court narrowly rejected an attempt to end the previous eviction moratorium in June, but did not rule on whether the federal ban was constitutional.
Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh joined liberal justices as well Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. in upholding the moratorium. He made it clear that he would not allow any extensions of the moratorium unless there was “clear, specific congressional authorization.”
The White House abruptly announced last week that Biden would not extend his moratorium. Congress leaders and the White House are now sharing the responsibility for the fate of the millions of Americans who could be expelled.
Progressive Democrats criticized the White House for not extending moratorium. They organized a campaign to pressure Biden to act when Congress couldn’t agree.
A small group led by Rep. Cori (D-Mo.), comprised of House lawmakers. In an effort to raise awareness of the issue, a small group of House lawmakers led by Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) slept outside the House chamber for five nights. Bush stated that her protest was personal as she had been evicted previously and used to live in a car with her children.
Pramila Jayapal, Progressive Caucus Chairwoman (D-Wash.), said that “This is a huge victory and we laud White House for listening and addressing the clarion call from our members, our coworkers and communities across the country.” “The president clearly sees the need to keep people inside their homes.”
Many members cited Bush’s protest as an integral part of the new moratorium.
“I especially applaud Rep. Cori bush, who understands how it feels to be evicted. She took her passion and turned that into amazingly effective actions,” said Charles E. Schumer (D.N.Y.), Senate Majority Leader.
This extended moratorium allows states to give more time to distribute $46.5 billion Congress provided in the Emergency Rental Assistance program January and March to those in need.
According to the Treasury Department, only $3 billion (or 7%) of available funds had been distributed as of June 30, according to their estimates. Many states didn’t begin processing applications until June.
According to California’s Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency, $242.65 Million in rental assistance was distributed to 20,066 households by the state as of Tuesday.
This is a small portion of the $5.6 million the state has received or expects it to receive from federal Emergency Rental Assistance program. However, it’s more than twice the amount the state was one month ago.
Russ Heimerich, agency spokesperson, stated that there has been an increase in applications since mid June when state legislators increased the potential reimbursement of rent to 100% and extended the eviction protections up until September.
He stated that the agency is working to reduce its application processing time by reducing the paperwork and increasing the number of employees.