Biden Administration Acts to Protect Renters as Eviction Moratorium Ends

Following the expiration of the CDC eviction moratorium for qualifying renters on July 31, federal, state and local leaders have been working to identify legal authorities, judicial interventions and other strategies to keep renters safely housed until state and local program administrators can disburse Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) funds to landlords and tenants. Authorized by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act, the ERA program provides $46 billion for renters who have fallen behind on rent and utilities as the result of a Covid-related hardship. Though a critical resource, the rollout of the ERA program was delayed by a multitude a factors, including slow release of guidance, challenges with staff capacity and technology infrastructure, and concerns over fraud. An estimated 6 million households are currently behind on rent and at risk of eviction.

On July 29, House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters introduced legislation to extend the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium for qualified renters through the end of the year, but the proposal lacked the necessary votes for passage. Yesterday, the Biden-Harris Administration announced that it is taking additional measures to protect renters amid the pandemic. A statement by the White House noted that since the CDC has not been able to find legal authority for enacting a new, targeted 30-day eviction moratorium, the President directed his White House policy, implementation and legal teams to work with federal agencies on reexamining whether there are any other authorities to take additional executive actions to temporarily stop evictions. Additionally, the President encouraged state and local governments to enact or extend their eviction moratoria for at least two months and called on state and local courts to halt eviction proceedings until tenants and landlords can first apply for ERA. The President also directed the U.S. Treasury to make clear that state and local governments can use ERA funds to support eviction prevention activities by courts, legal aid and housing counselors.

Several states, including California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Jersey and New York, will keep state-wide eviction moratoria in place. Additionally, some states, such as New York and Oregon, will continue to pause evictions for tenants with pending applications for Emergency Rental Assistance ERA funds.

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