WASHINGTON—The Biden administration announced on June 24 another extension of the national moratorium on evictions, to support renters and prevent foreclosures. The measure, which was imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in response to COVID-related hardships, had been scheduled to expire on June 30.
The CDC extended the directive by a month to July 31, while calling it “the final extension.” Following the agency’s guidance, the White House announced several actions to help state and local governments prevent a “flood of evictions” when the freeze ends.
According to the White House, there’s more than $46 billion available for the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program that could be used to help vulnerable renters and landlords. Hence, state and local governments “must do better” in moving this money to people in need, the White House said in a fact sheet.
“We are calling on every state and local recipient of the emergency rental assistance to accelerate their efforts, to expand their efforts to get funds to tenants and landlords in need as quickly as possible,” a senior administration official told reporters during a call.
“The CDC’s decision recognizes that a final 30 days was needed to ensure that we could take every possible step to ensure the moratorium did not lead to a flood of evictions.”
Roughly 6 million households are behind on rent payments, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The administration announced a series of actions to prevent mass evictions post-moratorium.
As part of the effort, the administration is urging state and local courts “to adopt anti-eviction diversion practices” to prevent a rush to eviction and encourage mediation between tenants and landlords.
In addition, the Treasury Department is allowing the funds for state and local governments and for emergency rental assistance to be used to finance eviction diversion plans, including counseling, navigator, and legal services.
As part of the plan to prevent evictions, the White House will also host an online summit of “local government, judicial, legal, and community leaders from 50 cities” to develop community-specific solutions and action plans to help tenants and landlords.
There are nearly 110 million Americans living in renter households and 19 million to 23 million of them are at risk of eviction by Sept. 30, according to a study by the Aspen Financial Security Program.
In an effort to protect homeowners, three federal agencies that back mortgages will also extend their foreclosure moratorium for one more month. The moratorium for mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will also be extended until July 31.
The federal agencies will also continue to allow homeowners to take advantage of COVID-related forbearance through Sept. 30. Homeowners with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac-backed mortgages will also continue to be eligible for COVID-related forbearance, according to the White House.
In July, the federal agencies will make an additional announcement to offer payment reduction options to borrowers.
Congress enacted a nationwide moratorium on evictions last year and extended its life several times.
While supporters of the moratorium say it helps struggling people to pay their rent during the pandemic, opponents argue that the mandate is unconstitutional and places undue pressure on landlords and property owners.
Earlier this week, a coalition of 44 House Democrats sent a letter to the CDC and President Joe Biden requesting that the moratorium be extended and strengthened.
Meanwhile, the moratorium had faced pushback from property owners and the National Association of Realtors, which filed an emergency lawsuit with the Supreme Court earlier this month. The case is currently pending.
“We are extremely disappointed,” Charlie Oppler, president of National Association of Realtors, said in an email in response to the CDC’s announcement.
“The real estate industry recently expressed our united opposition to a moratorium extension, which harms small housing providers and threatens stability in the market. We will continue pushing for reforms to improve deployment of rental assistance, which remains the best solution.”
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.