Evictions Loom as Ban Expires 07/31 10:16
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A nationwide eviction moratorium is set to expire
Saturday night after President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress worked
furiously but ultimately failed to align on a long-shot strategy to prevent
millions of Americans from being forced from their homes during a COVID-19
More than 3.6 million Americans are at risk of eviction, some in a matter of
days, as nearly $47 billion in federal housing aid to the states during the
pandemic has been slow to make it into the hands of renters and landlords owed
payments. The moratorium expires at midnight.
Tensions mounted late Friday as it became clear there was no resolution in
sight. Hours before the ban was set to expire, Biden called on local
governments to "take all possible steps" to immediately disburse the funds.
Evictions could begin as soon as Monday.
"There can be no excuse for any state or locality not accelerating funds to
landlords and tenants that have been hurt during this pandemic," Biden said in
"Every state and local government must get these funds out to ensure we
prevent every eviction we can," he said.
The stunning outcome, as the White House and Congress each expected the
other to act, exposed a rare divide between the president and his allies on
Capitol Hill -- one that could have lasting impact as the nation's renters face
Biden set off the scramble by announcing he would allow the eviction ban to
expire instead of challenging a recent Supreme Court ruling signaling this
would be the last deadline. He called on Congress on Thursday to swiftly pass
legislation to extend the date.
Racing to respond Friday, Democrats strained to rally the votes. House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi implored colleagues to pass legislation extending the
deadline, calling it a "moral imperative," to protect renters and also the
landlords who are owed compensation.
Congress must "meet the needs of the American people: both the families
unable to make rent and those to whom the rent is to be paid," she said in an
overnight letter late Thursday.
But after hours of behind-the-scenes wrangling throughout the day,
Democratic lawmakers had questions and could not muster support to extend the
ban even a few months. House Republicans objected to an attempt to simply
approve an extension by consent, without a formal vote. The Senate may try
Democratic lawmakers were livid at the prospect of evictions in the middle
of a surging pandemic.
"Housing is a primary social indicator of health, in and of itself, even
absent COVID," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. "A mass eviction in
the United States does represent a public health crisis unto itself."
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., the Financial Services Committee chair who
wrote the emergency bill, said House leaders should have held the vote, even if
it failed, to show Americans they were trying to solve the problem.
"Is it emergency enough that you're going to stop families from being put on
the street?" Waters testified at a hearing Friday morning urging her colleagues
to act. "What the hell is going to happen to these children?"
But Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, the top Republican on another
panel handling the issue, said the Democrats' bill was rushed.
"This is not the way to legislate," she said.
The ban was initially put in place to prevent further spread of COVID-19 by
people put out on the streets and into shelters.
Congress pushed nearly $47 billion to the states earlier in the COVID-19
crisis to shore up landlords and renters as workplaces shut down and many
people were suddenly out of work.
But lawmakers said state governments have been slow to distribute the money.
On Friday, they said only some $3 billion has been spent.
By the end of March, 6.4 million American households were behind on their
rent, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. As of July
5, roughly 3.6 million people in the U.S. said they faced eviction in the next
two months, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey.
Some places are likely to see spikes in evictions starting Monday, while
other jurisdictions will see an increase in court filings that will lead to
evictions over several months.
Biden said Thursday that the administration's hands are tied after the
Supreme Court signaled the moratorium would only be extended until the end of
At the White House, deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the
administration backs the congressional effort "to extend the eviction
moratorium to protect these vulnerable renters and their families."
The White House has been clear that Biden would have liked to extend the
federal eviction moratorium because of the spread of the highly contagious
delta variant of the coronavirus. But there were also concerns that challenging
the court could lead to a ruling restricting the administration's ability to
respond to future public health crises.
The administration is trying to keep renters in place through other means.
It released more than $1.5 billion in rental assistance in June, which helped
nearly 300,000 households. Biden on Thursday asked the departments of Housing
and Urban Development, Agriculture and Veterans Affairs to extend their
eviction moratoriums on households living in federally insured, single-family
homes. In a statement late Friday, the agencies announced an extension of the
foreclosure-related ban through the end of September.
On a 5-4 vote last month, the Supreme Court allowed the broad eviction ban
to continue through the end of July. One of those in the majority, Justice
Brett Kavanaugh, made clear he would block any additional extensions unless
there was "clear and specific congressional authorization."
Aides to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Sherrod
Brown, D-Ohio, the chair of the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban
Affairs, said the two were working on legislation to extend the moratorium and
were asking Republicans not to block it.
"The public health necessity of extended protections for renters is
obvious," said Diane Yentel, executive director of the National Low Income
Housing Coalition. "If federal court cases made a broad extension impossible,
the Biden administration should implement all possible alternatives, including
a more limited moratorium on federally backed properties."
Landlords, who have opposed the moratorium and challenged it repeatedly in
court, are against any extension. They, too, are arguing for speeding up the
distribution of rental assistance.
The National Apartment Association and several others this week filed a
federal lawsuit asking for $26 billion in damages because of the impact of the
"Any extension of the eviction moratorium equates to an unfunded government
mandate that forces housing providers to deliver a costly service without
compensation and saddles renters with insurmountable debt," association
president and CEO Bob Pinnegar said, adding that the current crisis highlights
a need for more affordable housing.