Biden’s eviction moratorium extension only prolongs flimsy protections
How effective is the eviction moratorium at shielding millions from losing their homes?
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On his first day as president, Joe Biden signed an executive order to extend a freeze on evictions nationwide through the end of March, in an attempt to shield millions of renters at risk of losing their homes during the pandemic.
It’s combined with his plan to pause student loan interest payments, as he pushes Congress to approve his $1.9 trillion economic relief plan he unveiled last week.
Congress previously approved a one-month extension to the federal eviction moratorium in December.
Without further action, before the end of the month, between 30 million and 40 million renters will be at risk of losing their homes during the coldest month, according to estimates by the nonprofit National Low Income Housing Coalition.
Biden’s executive order also asks federal agencies to extend their moratoriums on foreclosures of federally guaranteed mortgages through March, and to allow forbearance applications to continue for federally backed mortgages.
It’s estimated that 11.4 million renters are forecast to owe as much as $70 billion in back rent by the end of January, when the original moratorium was set to expire, according to an analysis from Moody’s Analytics.
After Biden’s executive order, the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director, Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, confirmed on Jan 21 that the agency’s moratorium on certain types of evictions is being extended through March.
But what exactly does this mean, and who is enforcing the order, if at all?
It’s an effort that offers short-term relief for the millions at risk of evictions, but it falls short of providing long-term aid that would prove effective at mitigating homelessness, and it’s been aptly been referenced as a “band aid” solution by both Forbes and Yahoo News.
As witnessed during the previous eviction moratoriums, evictions continue to happen anyways. Evictions for non payment of rent have been occurring despite the current moratorium.
The CDC moratorium is not ending evictions, particularly in areas where there are not stronger protections. Depending on the policies in place, courts across the nations will continue to force evictions.
This is without mentioning eviction moratorium at the state-level, many of which expired over the summer, resulting in a spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths in states with weaker moratoriums, with a disproportionate impact on Black and Latinx households.
“Policymakers should consider extending federal, state and local moratoriums alongside rent relief, and other legal and supportive protections to prevent future evictions, COVID-19 transmission, and associated harms,” a study by UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health concluded.
There have been more than 200,000 evictions during the pandemic, including tens of thousands with the moratorium in place, reports the Washington Post, referencing a study by Princeton university.
“We can and must demand more,” the ACLU wrote after Biden’s executive orders were made official, adding that Congress must take immediate action to address the looming mass evictions crisis.
BREAKING: Biden just extended the federal eviction moratorium until March 31.— ACLU (@ACLU) January 21, 2021
This is a critical move that will help keep the most vulnerable, low income renters stably housed during the pandemic.
But we can and must demand more.
The consensus is that the moratorium is flawed, and evictions continue to happen despite extensions because of a lack of enforcement. The CDC moratorium isn’t enforceable on landlords.
The moratorium is flimsy, and so far, lacks adequate enforcement. It was one of Biden’s day-one measures for relief, and the nation is expecting more.
This article is part of Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project among more than 20 news organizations focused on economic mobility in Philadelphia. Read all of our reporting as brokeinphilly.org.