CDC Issues Targeted Eviction Moratorium Through Oct. 3
On Aug. 3, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a limited eviction moratorium covering renters living in communities experiencing a substantial or high level of COVID-19 transmission. The CDC’s original moratorium was allowed to expire on July 31, leaving an estimated 6.5 million renter households currently behind on rent vulnerable to eviction. The new moratorium is expected to end on Oct. 3.
The newly issued eviction ban comes after progressives in the House protested the Biden administration’s refusal to renew the original eviction moratorium. The administration argued it wouldn’t be able to renew the moratorium without congressional authorization because of a recent Supreme Court ruling on the matter. The ruling blocked the CDC from extending its past moratorium beyond the end of July. And a last-minute effort by Congress to extend the ban failed.
President Biden in recent remarks at the White House acknowledged that the new moratorium will likely be challenged in court. “But at a minimum, by the time it gets litigated, it will probably give some additional time while we’re getting that $45 billion out to people who are in fact behind on the rent and don’t have the money,” Biden said.
And one day after the announcement of the new moratorium, the Alabama and Georgia Associations of Realtors petitioned the federal district court in D.C. to invalidate it. While the issue works its way through the courts as President Biden predicted, we’ll discuss how the new order is more limited in scope than the previous one.
COVID-19 Transmission Standards
The new moratorium covers renters living in communities experiencing a substantial or high level of transmission of COVID-19. Based on current transmission levels in the U.S., the order covers an estimated 90 percent of renters.
The CDC issued an updated moratorium declaration, which renters must submit to landlords to be protected, and clarified in the order that renters who have already submitted a declaration under the previous moratorium don’t need to submit a new declaration to continue to receive protection. The updated declaration can be found at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/communication/EvictionProtectDeclare_508.pdf.
Renters lose protections under the moratorium once their community is no longer experiencing a substantial or high level of COVID-19 community transmission. The moratorium doesn’t relieve renters from their obligation to pay rent; renters must still pay as much as they can.
Additional Anti-Eviction Measures
The CDC issued the new moratorium a day after the Biden administration announced additional steps it will take to protect renters and prevent evictions during the pandemic. In a statement on eviction prevention efforts the administration emphasized the speedy delivery of emergency rental assistance funds. “There is no excuse for any state or locality not to promptly deploy the resources that Congress appropriated to meet the critical need of so many Americans. This assistance provides the funding to pay landlords current and back rent so tenants can remain in their homes or apartments, and not be evicted. No one in America should be evicted when federal funds are available, in the hands of state and local government, to pay back rent due.”
The additional steps the Biden administration recently announced include:
- Directing federal agencies to reexamine whether there are any other authorities to take additional actions to stop evictions;
- Calling on states and localities to extend or put in place their own eviction moratoriums for at the least the next two months;
- Calling on state and local courts to heed the call of the Justice Department to pause eviction proceedings until tenants and landlords can first seek to access Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA), making evictions a last resort;
- Directing federal housing agencies to ensure federally supported landlords apply for ERA rather than evict renters;
- Challenging every landlord to hold off on evictions for the next 30 days and instead seek out the ERA that Congress and the administration meant for them;
- Challenging utilities providers to work with state and local governments to access ERA and other resources made available by Congress and the administration to avoid cutting off services for those behind in payments due to the pandemic and at risk of eviction; and
- Directing the Treasury Department to make clear that states and localities can use emergency housing and state and local relief to support eviction prevention efforts by courts, legal aid, and housing counselors, as well as to give incentives to landlords who cooperate in these efforts by offering housing to those who have been evicted or are homeless, or by offering leases to the most hard-pressed tenants at a length that ensures true housing stability.
In response to the Biden administration’s directives, HUD Deputy Secretary Adrianne Todman issued a statement on HUD efforts to connect people to ERA and prevent evictions. HUD Secretary Fudge has given direction to HUD’s leadership to identify any and all of HUD’s authorities that will require landlords and owners who do business with HUD to prevent evictions, including accessing rent relief funds.
HUD has also taken the following actions to prevent evictions and inform communities of their responsibilities and rights:
- Extended its foreclosure-related eviction moratorium for families living in housing insured by the Federal Housing Administration through Sept. 30, 2021. The Office of Public and Indian Housing also extended its moratorium for properties occupied by Native Americans and Native Hawaiians with mortgage loans guaranteed under the Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee and Section 184A Native Hawaiian Housing Loan Guarantee programs. HUD is reviewing additional legal authorities provided to the Department that can be used to stop evictions for vulnerable families;
- Streamlined requirements to allow HUD-assisted households to quickly recertify their income if they’ve experienced a drop in income, ensuring that their housing remains stable;
- Made clear that federally backed housing providers must provide 30 days’ notice before issuing a notice to vacate;
- Released extensive eviction prevention resources for public housing authorities, Tribes, and Tribally-Designated Housing Entities that highlight best practices to keep families housed and answer frequently asked questions;
- Issued guidance through HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity to protect against selective evictions toward protected classes such as race and national origin in violation of the Fair Housing Act—even when the eviction might otherwise have been lawful. This guidance also explains that the Fair Housing Act requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities, including exceptions or modifications to eviction policies and procedures that may be necessary because of tenants’ disabilities. HUD allocated $19.4 million to provide support to fair housing enforcement organizations to respond to fair housing inquires and complaints related to the pandemic;
- Released an inaugural Eviction Protection Grant Program that will fund $20 million for eviction protection and diversion services for low-income tenants at risk of or subject to eviction;
- Supported HUD grantees and stakeholders to ensure the best use of the various relief resources, including the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, and HUD’s various Native American housing programs to prevent evictions and homelessness.
Federal Reserve Releases Rental Debt Estimates,
Shows Need for ERA Funds
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia recently released new estimates of rental debt for households that experienced job loss or involuntary part-time work during COVID-19. The report is titled “Household Rental Debt During COVID-19: Update for August 2021.” It finds that without federal interventions, rental debt for households that experienced job loss or a reduction in hours would continue to increase through the end of the year.
The analysis estimates that renter households currently have $15.3 billion in debt. This figure is expected to increase to $18.6 billion by December. The Federal Reserve estimates that households have an estimated average debt of $7,800, which is expected to increase to $9,300 by December 2021 without ERA or other policy interventions. The debt amounts and average debt vary widely by state. The report estimates that Wyoming has the highest share of renter households in debt at 12.7 percent, followed by Florida at 7.9 percent. Average debt also varies, with Alaska, Hawaii, California, and Nevada having the highest average debt amounts at $14,100, $13,300, $11,400, and $9,500, respectively.