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Eviction moratorium: why has the White House not extended it?

The eviction moratorium for renters has been in place for the last nine months but it expired at the end of July after Congress failed to agree an extension.

The eviction moratorium for renters has been in place for the last nine months but it expired at the end of July after Congress failed to agree an extension.
Samuel CorumAFP

Last weekend the federal moratorium on housing evictions expired after Congress was unable to agree an extension. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it a “moral imperative” to keep the protection going with millions of Americans struggling to make rental payments due to the pandemic.

The Aspen Institute estimates that more that 15 million people are currently living in households that owe an accumulative $20 billion to their landlords. Last month the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey found that 3.6 million people faced eviction within the next two months.

White House would have “strongly supported” a moratorium extension

The eviction moratorium has been in place for 11 months after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first introduced it to prevent renters and their families from losing their homes due to the pandemic’s economic consequences. Earlier this summer the CDC extended it until 31 July but has not been able to extend it further.

In a White House press release, spokesperson Jen Psaki said: “President Biden would have strongly supported a decision by the CDC to further extend this eviction moratorium to protect renters at this moment of heightened vulnerability. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has made clear that this option is no longer available.”

The Supreme Court ruling found that Biden could not unilaterally extend the moratorium without the consent of Congress, which was subsequently unable to agree on the legislation to extend it. However House Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez argued that the administration had not done enough to persuade the House to extend it.

Speaking to CNN’s ‘State of the Union’, AOC said: “This Court order came down on the White House a month ago, and the White House waited until the day before the House adjourned to release a statement asking Congress to extend the moratorium.”

Some states opt to extend the moratorium for residents

Although the federal protection for renters has now expired some states have imposed their own moratoriums to prevent residents being kicked out of their homes. In California, an estimated 1.6 million renters are currently in areas but the state has ruled that landlords cannot initiate eviction procedures until October.

Landlords in Washington, DC will not be able to evict renters until 26 August, and only if they had been in arrears before the pandemic. If not, evictions cannot resume until 12 October. Renters in Massachusetts, Nevada, New York and Oregon will be protected from evictions provided they have a pending rental assistance application with local authorities.

A number of other states have decided to extend the moratorium for renters until the following dates:

  • Hawaii – 6 August
  • Illinois – 31 August
  • Maryland – 1 September
  • New York – 1 September, for residents who have endured a ‘covid-related setback’
  • New Jersey – 1 January, 2021