The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is extending a federal ban on tenant evictions for what the agency expects to be the last time, prompting some apartment industry leaders to call for provisions to help renters and landlords when rent payments are required again.
The CDC pushed the expiration date for the eviction moratorium, which prevents apartment landlords from evicting tenants who are unable to pay rent, to July 31 from its previous expiration date of June 30.
“Keeping people in their homes and out of crowded or congregate settings — like homeless shelters — by preventing evictions is a key step in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19,” the CDC said in a statement.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which was signed into law in March 2020, enacted a national eviction moratorium for rental units that receive some sort of federal funding or participate in public programs. That moratorium lasted for 120 days. In September, the first stand-alone, sweeping federal eviction moratorium was issued by the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services. That moratorium was extended in December, January and most recently in March.
The agency said it intends for this extension to be the final one. If the moratorium expires on July 31, it would be the first time that millions of renters could face removal from their homes if they fail to pay rent owed since the enactment of the CDC and HHS ban, which does not erase any back rent.
As of May, Americans are estimated to owe roughly $35 billion in back rent, according to a report from the Research Institute for Housing America, which is part of the Washington, D.C.-based Mortgage Bankers Association.
The decision comes as some apartment landlords nationwide have increasingly been criticizing the ban as putting the financial burden of the health crisis on their shoulders, with some challenging the moratorium in court, arguing that the CDC doesn’t have the legal authority to halt evictions in a pandemic.
Bob Pinnegar, president and CEO of the National Apartment Association, said in a statement to CoStar News that a moratorium on its own fails to address the myriad impacts of missed rent payments for both the renters and the landlords.
“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,” Pinnegar said.
Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the public policy nonprofit National Low Income Housing Coalition, said in a statement to CoStar News that the extension could allow more states and cities to deliver emergency rental aid to tenants who risk eviction when the moratorium expires.
“Allowing evictions to proceed when there are tens of billions in resources to prevent them would be wasteful and cruel,” Yentel said.
When President Biden was elected, Yentel was reportedly a candidate to be nominated secretary of Housing and Urban Development, a role now filled by Marcia Fudge.
Meanwhile, the National Multifamily Housing Council, a landlord and apartment industry advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., said the continuation of a national eviction moratorium would be “out of step” with the nation’s progress in controlling the coronavirus’s spread and reopening the economy.
“Instead of this blanket federal policy, this pandemic has already shown that targeted, efficient relief works,” the group said in a statement. “As we transition away from unsustainable moratoriums, we remain committed to implementing workable solutions for renters facing housing instability and helping the country recover.”
Among some of the efforts to support the transition are two federal rent relief measures that recently passed. In March, the Biden administration enacted the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion stimulus package that included $21.6 billion in rent relief. In December, then-President Donald Trump signed into law a $900 billion stimulus package that included $25 billion in emergency rental assistance.
And Biden’s infrastructure package, originally pitched as $2.3 trillion before being whittled down to about $1 trillion, sets aside several billion in rent relief.
The original American Jobs Plan set aside $2 billion in new project-based rental assistance agreements, according to a statement from the White House.
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