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President Joe Biden calls on Congress to extend the national eviction ban, which expires in two days.
“This moratorium has prevented hundreds of thousands of Americans from experiencing the heartbreak, homelessness and health risks that all too often come from evictions – especially during a pandemic,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Thursday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national eviction moratorium has been in force since September. It was renewed several times, but in June the Supreme Court ruled that the only way to extend the directive was by law.
“Given the recent proliferation of the Delta variant, including among Americans who are most likely to face evictions and have no vaccinations, President Biden would have strongly supported a CDC decision to extend this eviction moratorium further,” said Psaki. “Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has made it clear that this is no longer an option.”
House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi also believes the ban should be extended, saying the White House is looking into a way to do it, a spokeswoman said Thursday.
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Research has shown that evictions lead to increased Covid cases and deaths. More than half of the people in the US are still not fully vaccinated against the virus.
The proportion of adult tenants who lag behind with their home payments – around 16%, or 11 million people – has only slowly declined. In large part, this is due to the slowness in which states and cities are slowly distributing the $ 45 billion in federal rental subsidies allocated by Congress.
Those funds were approved in the last two major coronavirus stimulus packages passed in December and March, and yet only $ 3 billion has reached budgets, according to recent US Treasury data.
On Thursday, Psaki said Biden is also urging states and municipalities long ago to receive emergency aid for rents to urgently accelerate their efforts to disburse those funds in light of the imminent end of the CDC eviction moratorium.
The moratorium faced numerous legal challenges, and landlords criticized the policy, saying they couldn’t afford to house people for free or shoulder the land’s massive arrears in rent.
But housing advocates say maintaining the ban until more rental aid is reached would help both tenants and homeowners. People can receive support for up to 18 months, including a mix of repayment and future rent payments.
“If you save the tenant, it means you saved the landlord,” said Mark Melton, an attorney who represents tenants in Dallas who face eviction pro bono.
Aside from the risks of the pandemic worsening, evictions also make it harder for people to find new homes and jobs, said Emily Benfer, visiting professor of law and public health at Wake Forest University.
“Eviction prevention must be our national priority,” Benfer told CNBC earlier this week. “Without it, we will experience cross-generational effects that our country will find difficult to recover from.”
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