National moratorium on evictions extended, providing millions of people with temporary relief
Millions of Americans behind on rent received good news this week. On August 3, the Center for Disease Control extended the national moratorium on evictions until October 3. The announcement came just days after July 31, when the previous moratorium on evictions expired.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that 11.4 million adults living in rental housing are currently behind on rent. According to the Associated Press, 3.6 million Americans would face deportation without the moratorium, which is expected to face legal challenges.
Like the first moratorium on evictions, the new temporary decree aims to curb the spread of Covid-19. It is temporarily halting evictions in counties with higher levels of community transmission due to both low vaccination rates and the increase in the Delta variant.
“There was no way there would be enough shelter space for all the families who ended up on the streets. “
“There was no way there was enough shelter space for all the families who ended up on the street,” said Marisol Saldivar, spokesperson for the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. in Phoenix, noting that the summer heat made it difficult to raise awareness among the homeless. “We were afraid that families would have to live in their car, if they had one, and face these extreme temperatures. “
Extending the moratorium until October will alleviate concerns about the impact of summer weather conditions on those allegedly deported, she said. But Ms Saldivar added that the additional two months will also allow more applications for rent assistance to be processed.
In his August 3 press conference, President Joseph Biden noted that billions of dollars allocated for rentals and smallholder assistance have yet to be spent, and urged states to distribute those funds. to landlords so tenants can stay in place. “I think that would sort out the vast majority of what needs to be done to keep people in their apartments now,” Biden said.
Saint-Vincent-de-Paul is one of the assistance centers that distributes federal funds through the Emergency Rent Assistance Program, Ms. Saldivar said. The program helps families who can document that a pandemic-related crisis has resulted in their inability to pay rent, she said.
However, with the overwhelming number of requests, getting this government assistance to families can take time. “It’s a lot of paperwork,” Ms. Saldivar said. “Most families have 12 months rent and that sometimes looks like over $ 9,000 to $ 10,000.”
Once a person has been evicted, Ms Saldivar said, it is much more difficult for these people to qualify for housing.
Some families have struggled to prove a Covid-related crisis, she said. Many employers have laid off employees without providing documents linking the layoffs to the pandemic. Families can also prove a Covid-related crisis with a positive Covid test that chronologically matches the time of unemployment. Saint Vincent de Paul is helping families who are unable to prove their job loss was a Covid-related crisis through private donations, Ms Saldivar said. Unlike the government program, however, this assistance can usually only cover a few months of rent.
In some cases, landlords refuse to accept rent retrocessions, said Rob McCann, CEO and chairman of Catholic Charities in Spokane, Washington. America last month. Some landlords, he said, want to dump old tenants so they can dramatically increase rents.
Ms. Saldivar reports a more positive experience in Phoenix. “We have worked with many homeowners eager to develop payment plans,” she said. “Better to take this aid funding and have something to come than to have nothing at all. “
During the press conference, Mr Biden expressed concern about the impact of a recent 5-4 Supreme Court ruling that did not overturn the moratorium but appeared to question its constitutionality. Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who voted to maintain the moratorium, said he did so only because it was due to expire on July 31. Mr Kavanaugh said he believes Congress should pass legislation to extend the moratorium.
Alabama homeowners who had previously argued for lifting the moratorium returned to federal court on Aug. 4 to request a resumption of evictions, according to the Associated Press. Legal experts anticipate a series of challenges similar to the extension. University of Michigan law professor Nicholas Bagley expects homeowners to look to the courts “for a preliminary injunction” to allow the evictions to resume.
Once a person has been evicted, Ms Saldivar said, it is much more difficult for these people to qualify for housing. Preventing a housing crisis before eviction is much more effective than trying to resolve a housing crisis once a person is on the street, she said.
“Ultimately, it will come back to this point, and there will be another scramble,” Ms. Saldivar said.
In a July 30 letter to Congress, Catholic leaders urged senators and officials to take action to extend the moratorium on evictions “to protect vulnerable tenants during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City and Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on National Justice and Human Development; Donna Markham, OP, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA; and Mary Haddad, RSM, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, signed the letter advocating the extension.
“The Catholic Church teaches that access to safe, decent and affordable housing is a human right as well as a requirement of the common good,” they wrote. “We also know that housing is a key social determinant of health, which is especially important during a pandemic. Individuals and families without stable housing have fewer opportunities to protect themselves and others through social distancing, are more vulnerable to contracting coronavirus, and are more likely to need acute care if they are infected. “
Documents from the Associated Press were used for this report.