Thanks to the extraordinary advocacy of some Congressional leaders (Rep. Cori Bush!) and advocates nationwide, the Biden Administration took action to stave off thousands of evictions. This is a positive step and a signal to our own state leaders to do its part and pass the COVID-19 Housing Equity Bill (H. 1434/S. 891). Right now, this new federal moratorium will apply to Hampden and Berkshire Counties only, where there is “substantial” transmission of COVID-19. Hampshire and Franklin Counties – where the transmission is deemed “moderate” – are not covered.
This gap only magnifies the gaps that exist in the federal law as a whole. The COVID-19 Housing Equity bill will close the gaps and create the protection we need for tenants and homeowners across the Commonwealth facing eviction or foreclosure due to COVID-19. The bill has 70 legislative sponsors – thanks to so many in our Western MA delegation for signing on! – and we need action on it now. Stay tuned for more action opportunities!
See below for the National Low-Income Housing Coalition’s update on the new moratorium.
CDC Announces Eviction Moratorium Through October 3!
The CDC announced today that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will issue a limited eviction moratorium – starting today through October 3 – for renters living in communities experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases!
President Biden’s bold action and leadership in this moment of crisis will protect lives, and the new eviction moratorium is a major victory for renters and their allies!
The announcement would not have been possible without the extraordinary dedication and tireless work of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-CA), Representatives Cori Bush (D-MO), and other congressional champions, and of thousands of housing and homelessness advocates, including NLIHC’s partners and allies across the country. After the Biden administration stated on July 29 that it would not extend the federal eviction moratorium, Speaker Pelosi and Chair Waters led a fierce effort to enact legislation to extend the moratorium, but the measure failed to garner the support necessary. Since that time they and others, especially members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, kept up their demand that the Biden administration use every authority to extend the protection for renters.
The announcement also comes one day after the Biden administration announced additional steps it will take to protect renters and prevent evictions during the pandemic, including those recommended by NLIHC and the National Housing Law Project.
The new eviction moratorium provides immediate relief for the 6.5 million renter households who are currently behind on their rent and who were at an increased risk of eviction when the federal eviction moratorium expired on July 31. Recent research estimates that up to 80% of households behind on rent and at risk of eviction live in communities with over 100% COVID-19 case growth rates in July. The new moratorium will help keep renters safely and stably housed, and it will provide state and local governments more time to distribute emergency rental assistance (ERA) to households in need.
The new moratorium:
- Covers all renters living in communities experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases, an estimated 90% of all renters; and
- Protects renters for up to two months, through October 3.
But we cannot rest. Landlord and real estate associations will undoubtedly challenge the new eviction moratorium in court. The work of state and local governments to distribute emergency rental assistance to tenants in need becomes all the more vital.
Because the moratorium is not retroactive and will not protect those renters who have already been evicted from their homes, it is critical that state and local governments quickly prioritize ERA to rehouse these individuals and families to prevent homelessness. Most states and communities need to do much more to quickly distribute ERA to struggling renters and to ensure programs are visible, accessible, and preventive of evictions. Additional renter protections, such as right to counsel, expungement of eviction records, and just-cause eviction standards, are needed to help protect renters now and in the long term.
The CDC’s decision to issue a new eviction moratorium gives states and communities the time they need to ramp up their ERA programs; they must use this time effectively to expedite assistance to households in need.