White House Issues Broad Moratorium on Evictions!

Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control took the extraordinary and unprecedented action of issuing a national moratorium on most evictions for nonpayment of rent. The action is long overdue, badly needed and will provide essential protection to millions of renters. The very least the federal government ought to do during a global pandemic is assure each of us that we won’t lose our homes in the midst of it: the administration’s action would do just that and will provide relief from a growing threat of eviction for millions of anxious families. The moratorium takes effect on September 4.

While an eviction moratorium during the pandemic is essential, it is a half-measure that delays but does not prevent evictions. Congress and the White House must get back to work on negotiations to enact a COVID-19 relief bill with at least $100 billion in emergency rental assistance. Together with a national eviction moratorium, this assistance would keep renters stably housed and small landlords able to pay their bills and maintain their properties during the pandemic.

Background

The Centers for Disease Control and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced yesterday an order to temporarily halt evictions to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Citing the historic threat to public health, the Trump administration declared that an eviction moratorium would help ensure that people are able to practice social distancing and comply with stay-at-home orders. The announcement cites the increased risk of spreading coronavirus when people are evicted from their home or experience homelessness. The order takes effect on September 4.

To be covered under this action, renters must sign and provide to their landlord a declaration that they (1) have used their best efforts to obtain rental assistance; (2) expect to earn no more than $99,000 in 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return), was not required to report income in 2019 to the IRS, or received an Economic Impact Payment under the CARES Act; (3) are unable to pay the full rent or make a full rent payment due to loss of income, loss of work hours, or extraordinary medical costs; (4) are using best efforts to make partial rent payments; and (5) an eviction would result in homelessness or force them to double or triple up with other households. The eviction moratorium lasts through December 31, 2020.

The eviction moratorium does not provide emergency rental assistance resources to cover back rent, utilities, or fees. For this reason, the moratorium only postpones evictions rather than preventing them.

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