HUD Responds to Supreme Court’s Block of Eviction Moratorium
We explain some of the actions HUD is taking to help prevent evictions.
On Aug. 26, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the CDC’s limited eviction moratorium covering renters living in communities experiencing a high level of COVID-19 transmission more than five weeks ahead of its expiration date on Oct. 3. In an unsigned decision, the Court’s majority said the CDC exceeded its authority with the temporary ban. The Court said, “It strains credulity to believe that this statute grants the CDC the sweeping authority that it asserts.” The court added, “If a federally imposed eviction moratorium is to continue, Congress must specifically authorize it.”
In response to the decision, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki communicated that the White House is disappointed by the decision and urged states, local governments, landlords, and Cabinet agencies to act to help prevent evictions. Given the ruling, President Joe Biden was “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,” Psaki said.
Focus on ERA Distribution
Shortly after the CDC issued its now blocked eviction moratorium, President Biden predicted the moratorium would face a court challenge, and the Biden administration emphasized the need for the speedy delivery of emergency rental assistance (ERA) funds. “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.
Federal agencies have started to direct pressure toward state and local governments to take preventative actions with regard to evictions. In response to the Court decision, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge, and Attorney General Merrick Garland sent a letter dated Aug. 27 to state and local government leaders urging them to take immediate action to prevent unnecessary evictions during the pandemic. The letter highlights Treasury, HUD, and the Department of Justice actions to accelerate the distribution of ERA, and it urges state and local officials to enact their own policies to protect renters and landlords.
Secretaries Yellen and Fudge, along with Attorney General Garland, state that “no one should be evicted before they have the opportunity to apply for rental assistance, and no eviction should move forward until that application has been processed.” The letter urges governors, mayors, county executives, and chief justices and state court administrators to take the following urgent actions:
- Enact their own eviction moratoriums during the remainder of the public health emergency. Six states and the District of Columbia already have eviction moratoriums in effect;
- Work with state and local governments to require landlords to apply for ERA before they can initiate eviction proceedings;
- Stay eviction proceedings while ERA applications are pending. Concurrently, state and local governments should speed the delivery of ERA to meet courts’ deadlines;
- Use ERA and State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds allocated through the American Rescue Plan Act to support the right to counsel and eviction diversion strategies; and
- Help tenants navigate the ERA application process. By adopting the recommendations in Treasury’s revised guidance, local governments can remove unnecessary barriers to accessing ERA funds, including expediting assistance by relying on renter self-attestations without demanding further documentation.
In response to the Supreme Court ruling, HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge said, “I am deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court’s ruling on the CDC’s eviction moratorium...I pledge that the Department of Housing and Urban Development will continue to use every tool at our disposal to protect those people whose health and well-being are now in jeopardy.”
HUD has not issued a blanket eviction moratorium in place of the CDC’s directive. However, HUD has issued tenant protections for residents of certain HUD-subsidized properties making use of forbearance relief. HUD also has announced that through the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, it’s ready to protect people of color, families with children, people with disabilities, LGBTQ people, and others who may disproportionately face eviction through discriminatory policies and practices. In addition, HUD has highlighted programs and resources that protect HUD-assisted households from eviction and should be sought out by all Americans who are seeking assistance in avoiding eviction, relocating to new homes in the event an eviction moves forward, and fighting unfair evictions. Here are some of the actions HUD is taking to help prevent evictions:
Fighting unfair evictions. HUD is making over $19 million available to fair housing partners to help them respond to possible fair housing violations, many of which relate to the pandemic and evictions. The funds will enable private fair housing enforcement organizations to respond to fair housing inquiries and complaints, conduct fair housing testing, and implement education and outreach activities related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds will also be used to address fair housing issues affecting individuals and families experiencing housing instability, including those who may face displacement due to discriminatory evictions and foreclosures. HUD is also ramping up funding and education for HUD-approved housing counseling agencies to work with clients to understand their options if they’re facing eviction.
Providing legal assistance. HUD is making $20 million available to nonprofit or governmental entities to improve the availability of legal assistance at no cost to low-income tenants at risk of or subject to eviction. These funds will provide services in areas with high rates of evictions or prospective evictions, including rural areas.
Keeping people housed. HUD has instituted an eviction moratorium to protect borrowers with HUD-supported or FHA-insured mortgages. This includes people living on Tribal lands with HUD Section 184 Indian Home Loans. HUD will also act to require public housing authorities and owners participating in HUD’s project-based rental assistance program to give tenants facing eviction for nonpayment of rent additional time and other protections to allow them the opportunity to secure emergency rental assistance that may stave off eviction entirely.
For the duration of the presidentially declared national emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic, HUD will extend the time its regulations require before a tenant must vacate a unit once a notice of lease termination for nonpayment has been issued from 14 days to 30 days, consistent with CARES Act protections and the protections already in place for FHA-insured Multifamily mortgages where the borrower is under a forbearance agreement. Also, in order to initiate eviction, HUD may require additional steps of covered landlords.
Connecting people with rent and utility relief. HUD is working with the Department of Treasury to help Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) grantees connect tenants behind on rent and utilities with financial assistance. As part of a whole-of-government approach, HUD is calling on state and local ERAP grantees to lean into the flexibilities provided in this program and get assistance out quickly to those who need it the most.
Providing tools to help PHAs, HUD-assisted owners, and people experiencing homelessness. HUD program offices are delivering webinars, creating documents answering frequently asked questions, granting waivers to ease administrative burdens created by the pandemic, and distributing relief resources such as Emergency Housing Vouchers and additional assistance to people experiencing homelessness as quickly as possible.