CDC Issues New Eviction Ban for Most of the Country Through Early October
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday issued a new moratorium on evictions that would last until October 3, ending some of the political pressure being placed on President Joe Biden.
The new moratorium could help keep millions in their homes as the coronavirusâ delta variant has spread and states have been slow to release federal rental aid.
The federal ban expired Saturday night, affecting millions of Americans who now have the potential to be removed from their homes if they’ve fallen behind on rent. However, tenants in California are still protected by the state’s moratorium, which has been extended till September 30.
At a press conference at the White House earlier on Tuesday, President Joe Biden stopped short of announcing the new ban on evictions. But he said he asked the CDC to see what it could do after its previous ban expired over the weekend.
The new 60-day eviction moratorium covers areas heavily impacted by the coronavirus, where about 90% of the U.S. population lives, according to three people familiar with the plans who insisted on anonymity to discuss the announcement.
The extension could help heal a rift with liberal Democratic lawmakers who were calling on the president to take executive action to keep renters in their homes as the delta variant of the coronavirus spread and a prior moratorium lapsed over the weekend.
The new policy came amid a scramble of actions by the Biden team to reassure Democrats and the country that it could find a way to halt potential evictions. But pressure mounted as key lawmakers said it was not enough.
On Friday night, I came to the Capitol with my chair. I refused to accept that Congress could leave for vacation while 11 million people faced eviction.
For 5 days, weâve been out here, demanding that our government acts to save lives.
Today, our movement moved mountains.
â Cori Bush (@CoriBush) August 3, 2021
Top Democratic leaders joined Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., who has been camped outside the U.S. Capitol, the freshman congresswoman who once lived in her car as a young mother, leading a passionate protest urging the White House to prevent widespread evictions.
âFor 5 days, weâve been out here, demanding that our government acts to save lives,â she tweeted. âToday, our movement moved mountains.â
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it was a day of âextraordinary relief.â
âThe imminent fear of eviction and being put out on the street has been lifted for countless families across America. Help is Here!â Pelosi said in a statement.
The crisis of families being evicted is a challenge to the conscience of the country, and Democratsâ commitment to immediately helping renters and landlords is a priority that unites our Caucus. @HouseDemocrats have galvanized a national movement around the eviction emergency.
â Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) August 3, 2021
Administration officials had previously said a Supreme Court ruling stopped them from setting up a new moratorium without congressional backing, saying states and cities must be more aggressive in releasing nearly $47 billion in relief for renters on the verge of eviction.
The president said he sought input from legal scholars about whether there were options and said the advice was mixed, though some suggested, âItâs worth the effort.â Biden also said he didnât want to tell the CDC, which has taken the public health lead in responding to the pandemic, what to do.
âI asked the CDC to go back and consider other options that may be available,â he said.
The CDC has identified a legal authority for a new and different moratorium for areas with high and substantial increases in COVID-19 infections.
Biden also insisted there is federal money available â some $47 billion previously approved during the COVID-19 crisis â that needs to get out the door to help renters and landlords.
âThe money is there,â Biden said.
The White House has said state and local governments have been slow to push out that federal money and is pressing them to do so swiftly.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen briefed House Democrats Tuesday about the work underway to ensure the federal housing aid makes it to renters and landlords. She provided data so that lawmakers could see how their districts and states are performing with distributing the relief, according to a person on the call.
The treasury secretary tried to encourage Democrats to work together, even as lawmakers have said Biden should act on his own to extend the eviction moratorium, according to someone on the private call who insisted on anonymity to discuss its contents.
Yellen said on the call, according to this person, that she agrees âwe need to bring every resource to bearâ and that she appreciated the Democratsâ efforts and wants âto leave no stone unturned.â
As the eviction crisis mounted, the White House frequently said Biden was doing all he could under legal constraints.
The administration had repeatedly resisted another extension because the Supreme Court appears likely to block it. When the court allowed the eviction ban to remain in place through the end of July by a 5-4 vote, one justice in the majority, Brett Kavanaugh, wrote that Congress would have to act to extend it further.
As the initial moratorium expired, the administration emphasized many Americans will be able to stay housed with money already approved for aid and other efforts underway. The White House noted that state-level efforts to stop evictions would spare a third of the country from evictions over the next month.
Still, Biden faced stinging criticism, including from some in his own party, that he was was slow to address the end of the moratorium. Some people were at immediate risk of losing their homes.
Pelosi had called the prospect of widespread evictions âunfathomable.â The Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other progressive lawmakers intensified pressure on the White House to issue an immediate extension.
Late last week, Biden announced he was allowing the ban to expire, pushing Congress to act, but lawmakers were unable to swiftly rally the votes as even Democrats questioned prolonging the eviction ban for a few more months.
The CDC put the eviction ban in place as part of the COVID-19 response when jobs shifted and many workers lost income. The ban was intended to hold back the spread of the virus among people put out on the streets and into shelters.
Democratic lawmakers said they were caught by surprise by Bidenâs decision to end the moratorium, creating frustration and anger and exposing a rare rift with the administration. The CDC indicated in late June that it probably wouldnât extend the eviction ban beyond the end of July.
Rep. Maxine Waters, the powerful chair of the Financial Services Committee, has been talking privately for days with Yellen and urged the treasury secretary to use her influence to prod states to push the money out the door.
But Waters also called on the CDC to act on its own. âI donât buy that the CDC canât extend the eviction moratorium â something it has already done in the past! Who is going to stop them?â Waters said in a tweet. âCâmon CDC â have a heart! Just do it!â
This post includes reporting by KQED’s Carlos Cabrera-LomelÃ.
Copyright 2021 KQED