The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday extended the national eviction moratorium it first imposed in September to July 31. The eviction ban, designed to help keep people in their homes and thus slow the spread of COVID-19 in crowded settings such as homeless shelters, was set to expire next week.
More than 7 million households were behind on rent last month and nearly half are at risk of eviction, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. State leaders are bracing for a potential wave of evictions when the federal moratorium expires.
The CDC extension order said that an estimated 100,000 eviction filings have occurred despite the moratorium, “suggesting high demand and likelihood of mass evictions.” The extension will give states, cities, tribes and their partners more time to deploy emergency aid to renters, the order said, and will also give people at risk of eviction more time to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Since the pandemic began, the federal government and states have approved billions of dollars of assistance for people struggling to pay rent. But many tenants aren’t aware of the grants or have had difficulty applying. And officials have been slow to approve people for relief.
The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday issued new guidance for disbursing the $33.6 billion in federal rental aid that’s currently available. The guidance encourages state and local governments to partner with courts to prevent evictions, assist families experiencing homelessness and remove language and cultural barriers to reaching renters, among other best practices.
The moratorium extension was cheered by advocates for low-income tenants but criticized by landlords.
“With the extension of the CDC moratorium millions of families are safe for the moment from the devastating and long-term effects of eviction,” said Emily Benfer, a visiting law professor at Wake Forest University, and chair of the American Bar Association’s COVID-19 Task Force Committee on Evictions, in an email to Stateline.
“Now every minute counts,” Benfer added. “Stopping this crisis requires every branch of federal, state and local government to launch comprehensive eviction prevention measures.”
The National Apartment Association, a trade group that represents apartment owners, “remains fundamentally opposed” to the eviction order, said President and CEO Bob Pinnegar in a statement.
“Flawed eviction moratoriums leave renters with insurmountable debt and housing providers holding the bag as our nation’s housing affordability crisis spirals into a housing affordability disaster,” he said. “The CDC must abide by their promise and allow the moratorium to expire at the end of July.”