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CDC extends eviction moratorium for ‘final’ time as millions of Americans at risk in housing crisis

·3-min read
CDC extends eviction moratorium for ‘final’ time as millions of Americans at risk in housing crisis

A nationwide pause on evictions during the coronavirus pandemic has been extended for a “final” time by the US Centers for Disease Control, which extended the moratorium for one month through the end of July.

The CDC notes that “this is intended to be the final extension of the moratorium”.

The moratorium has been extended several times as the nation endures the ongoing economic fallout from the public health crisis, with as many as 40 million Americans protected from eviction by the government’s order and state and local efforts to halt evictions.

Roughly 6 million Americans reported that their households are not caught up with rent, according to a recent US Census Bureau survey.

Before the expiration, a group of House Democrats urged the White House to “extend and strengthen” the order, warning that “evictions take lives and push households deeper into poverty, impacting everything from health outcomes to educational attainment”.

President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan coronavirus relief package contains $46bn in emergency rental assistance to be distributed by state and local governments to assist with mounting rental debt from million of families, but lawmakers warned that struggling renters have not been able to access aid.

The White House is expected to roll out a series of federal efforts to expand rental assistance, including guidance from the Treasury Department to accelerate the distribution of billions of dollars in aid.

“While Congress, the Biden administration, and state and local governments are working diligently to provide emergency rental assistance to renters at risk of losing their homes, ongoing roadblocks and new challenges have prevented far too many renters from accessing these resources,” according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The US Department of Justice has also appealed a federal court ruling that the CDC does not have the legal authority to impose a nationwide moratorium on evictions.

A CDC form to declare eligibility for the moratorium protection was downloaded nearly 114,000 times from September through January, according to CDC data shared with The Independent through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The form was downloaded 50,680 times in September, when the moratorium was first announced.

An Eviction Lab assessment from the moratorium’s first six months reported more than 163,000 eviction filings from September through February – a 44 per cent spike from what the organisation would report in a typical year. But those filings include cities and states with strong protections against evictions during the pandemic.

Across five states and 29 cities tracked by the organisation, landlords have filed at least 378,790 evictions, including more than 6,000 at the beginning of June, according to the group’s latest snapshot.

The CDC’s order – which includes nonbinding guidance that still allows landlords to file for evictions, but otherwise pauses the process – has been applied inconsistently across the US, with some courts refusing to hold hearings until after the moratorium expires, while others have questioned the validity of tenants’ application for relief, according to Eviction Lab.

While the freeze on evictions has halted an immediate crisis, housing advocates and a group of bipartisan mayors in 33 cities, among others, have warned that temporary fixes cannot address the lasting impacts of the nation’s affordability crisis.

Home sales have surged despite higher prices, locking in existing racial disparities and and higher cost burdens, according to a new report from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.

More than 80 per cent of renters who earn less than $25,000 spent more than 30 per cent of their income on housing, and a majority spent more than half of their income on housing, the report found.

Nationwide rates of homelessness also continue to grow for the fourth consecutive year, according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

On a single night in January 2020, two months before the declaration of the pandemic, roughly 580,000 people – or about 18 of every 10,000 people in the US – were experiencing homelessness, a more than 2 per cent increase from 2019.

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