A Trump economic official said that ‘the best way to make people homeless is to make housing free’

Housing Advocates Boston Eviction Moratorium Sign
Housing activists gathering in Massachusetts in October.

  • The Biden administration and the CDC enacted a new, limited eviction ban on Tuesday.
  • The new ban could help keep many Americans in their homes in areas hit hard by the Delta variant.
  • But conservatives said they fear the new order will keep developers from building more amidst a historic housing shortage.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Conservatives, including a former Trump economic official, worry that the new eviction ban implemented by the Biden Administration on Tuesday could lead to less housing getting built, as millions of Americans prepared to be forced out of their homes amidst an ongoing pandemic.

These worries come after the Biden administration announced a new targeted ban on evictions just days after a federal pandemic-era eviction moratorium lapsed, leaving seven million renters at risk of getting kicked out.

Casey Mulligan, the former chief economist for the White House Council of Economic Advisers during the Trump administration, told the Washington Post that allowing a longer reprieve for people behind on paying rent would mean fewer funds to developers and could disincentivize them building more. The US is currently in a housing crisis because it doesn’t have enough homes to meet prospective buyers’ demand.

“There’s an old expression that the best way to make people starve is to make food free. The best way to make people homeless is to make housing free,” Mulligan told the Washington Post.

Biden’s new measure isn’t as encompassing as the eviction moratorium that was in place during the pandemic. It’ll focus on areas that have high levels of COVID transmission, and it expires October 3. But it does serve to provide relief for some renters who faced losing their homes as the Delta variant continues to surge throughout the US. The order targets areas that are experiencing “substantial” or “high” levels of covid transmission – which the CDC order says was true of over 80% of counties on August 1.

“This moratorium is the right thing to do to keep people in their homes and out of congregate settings where COVID-19 spreads,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement, adding, “Such mass evictions and the attendant public health consequences would be very difficult to reverse.”

The order will be dropped in impacted areas when infections reach “controllable levels” for 14 consecutive days, or on October 3, whichever comes first (unless infections start spiking again), Insider’s Azmi Haroun and Joseph Zeballos-Roig reported.

But some conservatives are arguing that the new order could also worsen the ongoing housing shortage by shortchanging housing developers. Developers have been building more new rental homes recently, but President Biden himself recently met with homebuilders and unions to discuss the current short-squeeze.

As Insider’s Ben Winck reported, there is an ongoing housing crisis – but it’s one that centers more on homeowners and affordability. Inventory has been and continues to remain tight, and it’s filtering in to the rental market and jacking up prices.

But letting the eviction moratorium lapse might actually exacerbate the current housing situation, Insider’s Taylor Borden reports. According to US Census Bureau data, 7.4 million households were behind on rent; if they’re forced out, their units might open up to prospective renters – but it also means millions of newly evicted renters will be scrambling to find housing.

And more affordable housing might still be far off: While the Biden administration included affordable housing in its initial infrastructure proposal, it doesn’t seem to have made it into the bipartisan proposal.

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Biden to announce a 60-day limited eviction ban that could cover the vast majority of renters

Joe Biden
US President Joe Biden speaks on the economy at Cuyahoga Community College Manufacturing Technology Center, on May 27, 2021, in Cleveland, Ohio.

  • Biden is poised to announce a new, limited eviction moratorium after coming under intense pressure from progressives.
  • It will stretch for 60 days and expire on Oct. 3.
  • It could protect 90% of all renters across the country.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Biden administration is poised to announce a limited eviction ban after coming under immense pressure from progressives to act in recent days.

A person familiar with the new policy from the White House said it would be a 60-day federal eviction freeze targeted at areas with surging infections from the Delta variant. They said it would cover 80% of all counties and 90% of the renter population.

The exact details of the initiative still were not clear. A federal eviction ban expired on Saturday, threatening over six million renters with the loss of their homes.

President Joe Biden indicated the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would unveil more details later on Tuesday, but conceded it may face legal challenges. “Any call for a moratorium based on the Supreme Court’s recent decision is likely to face obstacles,” he said at a news conference.

It comes after a group of progressive Democrats led by Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri waged a five-day sit-in at the steps of the Capitol.

Bush slept outside the past four nights, along with a group of protesters to demand an extension of the eviction moratorium that ended over the weekend. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders showed their support for the protesters on Monday.

This story will be updated.

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AOC blames ‘conservative Democrats’ and Biden administration inaction on failure to extend eviction moratorium

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York.

  • New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Sunday blamed members of her own party for allowing the federal eviction moratorium to expire.
  • AOC said the Biden administration should’ve acted more quickly in directing Congress to act.
  • “We cannot in good faith blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have the majority,” she said during a CNN interview.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Sunday blamed a “handful of conservative Democrats” and the Biden administration’s inaction for creating panic and allowing the federal eviction moratorium to expire.

“There were a handful of conservative Democrats that threatened to get on planes rather than hold this vote, and we have to really just call a spade a spade,” Ocasio-Cortez, a progressive Democrat, said Sunday during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“We cannot in good faith blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have the majority,” she added.

The White House on Thursday said it would not renew the federal eviction moratorium, citing a recent Supreme Court ruling that said Congress must take action to renew it. The Biden administration called on Congress to act just before its recess, leaving Democrats in both chambers scrambling to pass legislation.

The ban on evictions was enacted at the start of the pandemic in the US in March 2020. According to data from the US Census Bureau data, 7.4 million households in the US are behind on rent as of last month, meaning millions now face eviction from landlords looking to recoup lost rent.

The House failed to pass a bill to extend the moratorium Friday before lawmakers went into its recess that will last until September, as Insider previously reported. Following its failure to pass legislation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top Democrats blamed Republicans for posing roadblocks to the extension.

But other Democrats, including California Rep. Maxine Waters, Ocasio-Cortez, and Missouri Rep. Cori Bush expressed disappointment with their own party.

“I just thought we should’ve fought harder,” Waters, a California Democrat, told reporters.

Bush, also a progressive, blasted her own party on Saturday, saying “some Democrats went on vacation” instead of staying in DC to pass the moratorium extension.

“Now, there is something to be said for the fact that this court order came down on the White House a month ago, and the White House waited until a day before the House adjourned to release a statement asking on Congress to extend the moratorium,” Ocasio-Cortez said Sunday.

“We asked the Biden administration about their stance and they were not really being really forthright about that advocacy and that request until the day before the House adjourned,” she added.

Ocasio-Cortez called on her fellow members of the House to reconvene to vote to extend the moratorium.

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Women, people of color, and low-income families face the highest risk of being forced out of their homes as the eviction moratorium comes to an end

Eviction Moratorium Activists Massachusetts Signs DOJ
Housing activists erect a sign in front of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s house in Swampscott, Mass.

  • With the eviction moratorium likely coming to an end Saturday, millions of renters are expected to be plunged into housing disarray.
  • About 73 percent of renters likeliest to be evicted are people of color. About 56 percent are women.
  • More than half of the likeliest people vulnerable to eviction make less than $25,000 in total household income.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The eviction moratorium is expected to end on July 31, after Congress failed to renew it before heading into recess until mid-September. Once the moratorium expires, about 7.4 million Americans will risk getting evicted in the next coming months, according to Census Pulse Survey Data.

Women, people of color, and low-income households are the most vulnerable groups of renters who will be exposed to the consequences brought on by the end of the eviction moratorium. These three groups are believed to have the likeliest chance of being forced to leave their homes within the next two months, Census household data projects.

About 1.4 million renters are very likely to be kicked out of their homes in the next two months, the data says. According to Insider calculations:

  • About 73 percent of the 1.4 million renters likely to be evicted are people of color.
  • About 56 percent of the 1.4 million are women.
  • And about 76 percent have an annual household income of less than $50,000 a year. More than half of the 1.4 million make less than $25,000 in total household income.

Additionally, about 20% of the 1.4 million have at least some difficulty hearing, and about 50% have at least some difficulty seeing.

Once the moratorium ends, these groups of people have the highest risk of being evicted from their homes.

Last year, US Census data showed evidence that people of color more frequently faced evictions than white tenants did.

Women on average face 16% higher rates of eviction than men, a 2020 study by the Eviction Lab said. When broken down by race, the difference is even more drastic.

Between 2012 and 2016, the study says, Black women were evicted about 36 percent more often than Black men.

“There’s the dynamic intersection between poverty and race,” Shamus Roller, executive director of the National Housing Law Project, an organization that aims to advance housing justice for poor people and communities, previously told Insider.

Researchers say there are several reasons why women might be evicted at higher rates than men.

One study, for example, found that men have a tendency to share personal conflicts like a job loss or health issue with their landlord directly while women generally keep to themselves, especially when either group deals with predominantly male landlords.

“The interaction between predominantly male landlords and female tenants,” that same study says, is “a culprit and often turns on gender dynamics.”

And in general, single mothers are more vulnerable to economic disadvantages and financial difficulties.

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Progressive Cori Bush says ‘some Democrats went on vacation instead’ of preventing the eviction moratorium from expiring

Cori Bush
Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., testifies during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing.

  • Rep. Cori Bush on Saturday accused Democrats of leaving for vacation before passing legislation that would have renewed the eviction moratorium.
  • About 7.4 million Americans are at risk of eviction in the next two months after the moratorium ends July 31.
  • The House failed to pass a bill that would have extended the moratorium and members are now on recess until August.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Cori Bush slammed Democrats, saying they decided to take a recess ahead of the upcoming eviction moratorium deadline, potentially plunging millions of renters into a state of disarray.

“We could have extended it yesterday, but some Democrats went on vacation instead,” Bush, a progressive representative from Missouri, said on Twitter Saturday morning.

“We slept at the Capitol last night to ask them to come back and do their jobs. Today’s their last chance. We’re still here,” she added, including a picture of her and several activists outside the Capitol building.

Hours after failing to pass a bill that would have extended the eviction moratorium, the House on Friday entered a recess that’ll last until August.

The eviction moratorium, set up in September 2020 in response to the financial devastation brought on by the coronavirus, was extended in June by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The White House encouraged Congress to extend the moratorium past July, giving guidance to do so at the last minute. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that the Biden administration would have “strongly supported” the CDC in a decision to renew the moratorium. But a Supreme Court ruling specified that the decision to renew required congressional approval, the White House statement said.

Democrats unanimously voted to pass the bill, but Republican House members blocked the legislation.

After the bill failed, top Democrats expressed their disappointment in a statement.

“It is extremely disappointing that House and Senate Republicans have refused to work with us on this issue,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and House Majority whip James Clyburn after the vote failed. “We strongly urge them to reconsider their opposition to helping millions of Americans and instead join with us to help renters and landlords hit hardest by the pandemic and prevent a nationwide eviction crisis.”

Once the moratorium expires on July 31, about 7.4 million Americans will risk eviction in the next two months. That translates to about 16% of all renters, according to Census Pulse Survey Data.

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Congress fails to extend federal eviction moratorium – which ends after July 31 – before going on recess

A woman walks past a wall in Los Angeles that has graffiti reading "Forgive Our Rent"
The national eviction ban ends on July 31, 2021.

  • The House of Representatives on Friday failed to extend the CDC’s federal eviction moratorium.
  • House leaders brought an extension up for a unanimous consent vote, which at least one member objected to.
  • House members left for their August recess, and the moratorium expires after tomorrow, affecting millions.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The House of Representatives failed to pass a bill on Friday that would have extended the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium, which had been in place since September 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is set to expire after Saturday, July 31, 2021.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer brought up the legislation to be voted on by unanimous consent, which was blocked by Republican members of the House.

After the bill failed, Pelosi, Hoyer, and House Majority whip Rep. James Clyburn wrote a statement expressing their disappointment.

“It is extremely disappointing that House and Senate Republicans have refused to work with us on this issue,” they wrote after the vote. “We strongly urge them to reconsider their opposition to helping millions of Americans and instead join with us to help renters and landlords hit hardest by the pandemic and prevent a nationwide eviction crisis.”

But others in the Democratic party were critical of their own leadership for not doing enough to extend the moratorium. The House has now entered its August recess, potentially until September 20, 2021, while the moratorium expires tomorrow night.

Rep. Maxine Waters, a Democrat from California, who had introduced the extension bill and told reporters, “I just thought we should’ve fought harder.”

Pelosi emailed House Democrats early in the day asking them to support the bill, and progressive members of the Democratic Party spent Friday urging their colleagues to sign onto the bill.

“I’m urging you to please hear me out on this issue because as a formerly unhoused Congresswoman, I have been evicted three times myself,” Missouri Rep. Cori Bush wrote in a letter to her House colleagues. “…If Congress does not act now, the fallout of the eviction crisis will undoubtedly set us backwards as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravish our communities – needlessly contributing to more death and suffering.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that she and Rep. Cori Bush, “tried to object to the House adjourning session and force a roll call on whether we should leave,” claiming, “They rushed to adjourn before we could get to the floor.”

The House is scheduled to reconvene in September, pending any “significant legislation” that could call them into session sooner, which Rep. Hoyer suggested could happen after the failed vote on Friday.

The failure to extend the eviction moratorium came after the White House, at the eleventh hour, asked Congress to enact legislation pertaining to the matter, saying his administration would have “strongly supported” the decision to renew the ban but claimed to be unable to do so citing a ruling from the Supreme Court.

“In June, when CDC extended the eviction moratorium until July 31st, the Supreme Court’s ruling stated that ‘clear and specific congressional authorization (via new legislation) would be necessary for the CDC to extend the moratorium past July 31,'” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

On the House floor on Friday evening, Rep. Steny Hoyer, a Democrat from Maryland, asked for unanimous consent on extending the eviction moratorium before the House adjourned ahead of the deadline at the end of July. The vote failed upon one objection, and the House will reconvene next Tuesday.

“Their statement hit us totally out of the blue, nobody was expecting it,” a House Democratic aide granted anonymity to speak candidly told Insider. “Just didn’t leave enough time.”

Around 6 million Americans are at risk of getting evicted in the coming months, or 16% of all renters, per Census Pulse Survey Data, after the moratorium expires on July 31.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Biden rips states for sitting on billions in rental aid as he lets eviction ban end

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden.

  • President Biden ripped state leaders for sitting on rental aid for landlords and tenants impacted by the pandemic.
  • Earlier this week, he called on Congress to extend the eviction moratorium – several days before the federal ban was set to expire.
  • Rep. Hoyer asked for unanimous consent to extend the ban, which failed, and the House adjourned.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden slammed state leaders Friday for sitting on billions in rental aid as the eviction moratorium is set to expire on Saturday.

Biden called on state and local governments to disperse the Emergency Rental Assistance funding they received in February.

“Five months later, with localities across the nation showing that they can deliver funds effectively – 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 a statement.

“Every state and local government must get these funds out to ensure we prevent every eviction we can,” Biden continued.

Lawmakers have been shifting the responsibility of letting the moratorium lapse.

Earlier this week, the president called on Congress to extend the eviction ban just days before the moratorium was set to expire, saying his administration would have “strongly supported” the decision to renew the ban but claimed to be unable to do so citing a ruling from the Supreme Court.

“In June, when CDC extended the eviction moratorium until July 31st, the Supreme Court’s ruling stated that ‘clear and specific congressional authorization (via new legislation) would be necessary for the CDC to extend the moratorium past July 31,'” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

According to Washington Post reporter Seung Min Kim, when she asked “why the administration waited until this week to push this to Congress – the White House insisted it had been ‘having conversations with Congress for some time about this.'”

However, a House Democratic aide, granted anonymity to speak candidly, told Insider that the White House statement on Thursday “just didn’t leave enough time.”

“Their statement hit us totally out of the blue, nobody was expecting it,” the aide said.

On the House floor on Friday evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat from Maryland, asked for unanimous consent on extending the eviction moratorium before the House adjourned ahead of the deadline at the end of July.

The vote failed upon one objection, and the House is scheduled to reconvene until late September, pending any “significant legislation” that could call them into session sooner.

After the bill failed, Pelosi, Hoyer and House Majority whip Rep. James Clyburn wrote a statement expressing their disappointment. Earlier in the week and as late as Thursday, members of the House reportedly believed that the White House would extend the moratorium on it’s own.

“It is extremely disappointing that House and Senate Republicans have refused to work with us on this issue,” they wrote after the vote. “We strongly urge them to reconsider their opposition to helping millions of Americans and instead join with us to help renters and landlords hit hardest by the pandemic and prevent a nationwide eviction crisis.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that her and Rep. Cori Bush, ” tried to object to the House adjourning session and force a roll call on whether we should leave.”

“They rushed to adjourn before we could get to the floor,” she wrote.

Around 6 million Americans are at risk of getting evicted in the coming months, or 16% of all renters, per Census Pulse Survey Data, after the moratorium expires on July 31.

Read the original article on Business Insider

2 people who face eviction on the expiring ban: ‘The nightmare is not over’

A woman walks past a wall in Los Angeles that has graffiti reading "Forgive Our Rent"
The national eviction ban ends on July 31.

  • The national eviction ban ends Saturday, putting many renters at risk.
  • Wendy Fink, a preschool teacher in Phoenix, owes $1,700 in unpaid rent.
  • Mehran Mossaddad, a father in Atlanta, isn’t sure if his landlord will renew his lease.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The national eviction moratorium is set to expire July 31. But as the economy struggles to regain pre-pandemic momentum, many renters are grappling with months of unpaid rent.

The Biden administration on Thursday said renewing the eviction ban is left up to Congress. Experts estimate 6 million Americans face eviction once housing protections end Saturday. Some states have extended the moratorium for a while longer, but most are set to end protections.

In December, Congress approved $25 billion in rental assistance and another $21 billion in March, but the funds have been slow to disperse to landlords and tenants due to software issues, hesitancy among states to sign off on payments, and other complications.

Insider spoke with two people who are uncertain about the future of their housing arrangements and could face eviction when the moratorium ends.

Mehran Mossaddad, 59, is a father living in Atlanta, Georgia, who owed over $23,000 in unpaid rent

A man with glasses in a shirt and tie
Mehran Mossaddad.

When we first entered lockdown last March, I stopped driving for Uber full time to take care of my 10-year-old daughter and help with online learning.

Because there was no daycare, no school, and I couldn’t afford a babysitter, I fell behind in rent and used the $800 I had in savings to pay for food.

I received $125 a week in unemployment (plus an additional $600 a week in federal aid until it ended last year, then $300 a week until it ended two months ago) but it was slow to arrive, and I didn’t receive my first stimulus check until earlier this year due to an error with my social security.

Last August, I received my first eviction notice. My rent is $1,600 a month, and at the time of my first eviction notice I was four months behind. The property management company opened a court case against me, and once that happened I had a record, which made it impossible for me to rent or buy another place. I tried and shopped around at 10 different apartments, but no one would have me.

During this time, I had a lot of anxiety. One day when I came home from the grocery store, I saw police cars outside of my neighbor’s house because they were getting evicted. My knees started shaking so badly I had to sit down. My limbs would go numb in the middle of the night just thinking about whether or not we would have a home the next day.

I don’t think I’ll ever be mended. I have no other family here in Georgia and no Plan B if my daughter and I were to be evicted.

DeKalb County, where I live, puts a cap on how much federal assistance renters can have. Last month, after multiple conversations with the county and the property management, we agreed I would pay $10,000 of the $23,000 I owed in back rent for the eviction notice to be resolved. The county offered $5,000, so I had to scrape together the rest from friends and started driving for Uber again.

Once the agreement was signed and I paid my half of the $10,000, the property management agreed to give me two months of rent for free and forgave the rest. But the eviction notice still remains on my record, and the landlord hasn’t indicated whether or not it will agree to renew my lease at the end of this month.

I hope the government will extend the moratorium, but I still have anxiety attacks because the nightmare is not over. I stay up at night thinking, is this a new era for us? Or is this the beginning of the dark ages?

Wendy Fink, 52, is a preschool teacher living in Phoenix, Arizona, and has $1,700 in unpaid rent

A woman outside looking at the camera
Wendy Fink.

The preschool I work at closed for two weeks in March 2020 and I was furloughed, then opened and closed several more times.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I was able to keep up with our $1,300-a-month rent because I had some money saved and my mother, who was on social security, helped. There were several times where I tried to get on unemployment, but I gave up because it was impossible to get anyone on the phone to help or receive an email back.

Everything changed earlier this year. We started receiving late notices in the mail from our property management because we had over $4,000 in back rent. The apartment complex I live in charges $15 per day for late rent, and it quickly started getting out of hand. I paid what I could, which was not much because I wasn’t working full time, and even with the stimulus checks and living slim, we kept falling short.

In March, we received $3,400 in rental aid from a nonprofit in Phoenix. It was a lengthy process, and I was thrilled to finally be able to start to catch up, but then my mother became very sick and was hospitalized. We found out earlier this summer she had stage four pancreatic cancer.

I didn’t want her to live out her final days in a hospice facility, so we set up a hospital bed in our living room and I stopped working to focus on her health. The doctors said we would have months, but it actually turned out to only be weeks. She passed away in June at the age of 75.

By the time my mother died, I owed $3,900 in back rent. My son paid off $2,200 of it, but as the eviction moratorium is coming to an end I don’t have any hope Maricopa County, where I live, will extend it. I’ve started to prepare for the worst, and in the darkest corners of my mind I think I might have to end up in a residential hotel, which is a dismal place to live.

Last month, I started a GoFundMe to help make up the $1,700 I still owe, but haven’t been able to hit $1,000. It was embarrassing for me to even start a fundraiser because in this country there’s so much stigma around being poor. I’m relying a lot on the generosity of my friends and family right now, but I’m sure I’ll be served with an eviction notice on the first of August. I have no doubt.

The past few months have been stressful and I’m white-knuckling it. The pandemic has made me realize anyone can end up in this situation, especially with wages as low as they are and rent as high as it is. We’re told to save our money, but when you have nothing to save, you can’t prepare for an emergency.

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Democrats are scrambling to renew a eviction moratorium after Biden urged extension at the last-minute

Sherrod Brown
Sherrod Brown.

  • House and Senate Democrats are scrambling to renew a federal eviction ban after Biden urged them at the last-minute.
  • In a statement to Insider, a spokesperson for Sen. Sherrod Brown said he was working with Schumer on legislation.
  • Nearly six million people are at risk of eviction starting in two days.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Congressional Democrats are rushing to assemble legislation to renew a federal eviction ban before it expires

Democrats in both chambers are trying to draft a bill and put it to a rapid vote sometime in the next two days. The moratorium expires on July 31. After that, around 6 million people are at risk of getting evicted in the coming months, or 16% of all renters, per Census Pulse Survey Data.

The Biden administration on Thursday said it would not renew a federal eviction ban and the matter was ultimately left up to Congress, citing a recent Supreme Court ruling. The high court’s decision stated that Congress needed to renew it.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said though the administration “strongly supported” renewing the federal eviction ban, the Supreme Court ruling essentially tied its hands. The administration instead called for the quick dispersal of emergency rental aid which has been slow to get to renters. Psaki also said Biden is asking various federal agencies to implement limited eviction bans through September’s end.

Banking and Housing Committee chair Sherrod Brown initially held off pushing for an extension, saying it should be left up to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency intervened and put the moratorium in place last year under President Donald Trump, citing the urgency of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Now Brown is playing a key role assembling a bill to renew it past July 31.

In a statement to Insider, a spokesperson for Brown’s office said he “supports an extension of the eviction moratorium and will work with Leader Schumer to pass legislation that will allow our nation’s renters to stay in their homes during this crisis.”

It was unclear what date House and Senate Democrats would ultimately agree on. A person familiar with the talks in the House said their version would attempt to extend it sometime until the end of the year.

Democrats in recent days had stepped up their calls for the administration to renew the ban. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranked Senate Democrat, were among them.

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Ending the pandemic can’t happen without ending evictions, which needlessly increase infections

eviction foreclosure moratoriums 2021
Americans protested a wave of evictions and foreclosures at the end of last year as protections aiding people who couldn’t afford rent or mortgage payments was close to expiring.

  • The CDC eviction moratorium may be overturned soon, leaving millions of Americans owing $40 billion.
  • Evictions target marginalized people and help to spread COVID.
  • To keep people safe, Congress should act to not only extend the moratorium but to cancel accumulated rent payments so that no one is evicted when this all ends.
  • Abdullah Shihipar is a writer who covers public health, class, and race.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Two weeks ago, a federal court in Washington, DC ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) overstepped its authority in issuing a nationwide eviction moratorium and threw it out. The Justice Department announced that it would appeal the verdict and the judge has allowed the moratorium to remain in place while litigation continues. Still, the ruling has caused chaos across the country, as tenants grapple with the possibility of being evicted during the pandemic.

In addition to the CDC moratorium, the country has been covered with a patchwork of state, county, and city-level bans on evictions. However, despite these protections – and thanks in part to a system of loopholes – thousands have been evicted over the last year of the pandemic. The chaos caused by this ruling has only reaffirmed the need for Congress to act and pass real relief for tenants. It’s time to cancel rent.

Eviction conviction

Prior to the pandemic, evictions were already an epidemic in the United States – around 900,000 evictions take place in an average year, which is around four evictions per minute – and not everyone is affected equally. According to statistics collected by the Eviction Lab at Princeton University, Black, Latinx and women renters are disproportionately targeted by evictions and removed from their homes. Households with children, particularly single mother households, are especially at risk. A study by the Eviction Lab shows that neighborhoods with higher amounts of children have increased evictions and that in court, tenants with children are more likely to receive a judgement ordering their eviction.

Evictions are a disruptive force in the lives of Americans. Once someone is evicted, it is harder for them to rent in a similar neighborhood -even an eviction filing can have the same impact without the actual eviction. Since landlords refuse to rent to them, people who have been evicted are often pushed into housing that is substandard, often in areas that are far from their workplaces, transit, and more. Even worse, some end up without a home at all. Merely being threatened with an eviction is associated with worse physical and mental health.

Evictions can be blamed for some spread of the novel coronavirus too. They’ve been deemed an infection risk during the pandemic, which is what caused the CDC to institute the moratorium in the first place. A study published in December found that 11,000 COVID-19 deaths and 433,700 infections could have been prevented had states that lifted their eviction moratoriums kept them in place. When you don’t have stable housing, you aren’t able to stay at home and isolate from others. People who are evicted may go live with extended family, causing crowding in housing, which has been associated with COVID-19 cases and deaths. Similarly, a working paper published in the National Bureau of Economic Research found that maintaining moratoriums reduced COVID infections by 3.8% and deaths by 11%.

As cases, deaths, and hospitalizations decrease in the coming weeks, politicians may use this opportunity to declare the pandemic over and rescind the moratoriums. While the moratoriums need to be extended for the considerable future, they do not address the accumulating amount of unpaid rent that is piling up for those who are at risk of eviction. By this month, 7 million renters in America will collectively owe $40 billion in unpaid rent – these unpaid fees will kick off a cascade of evictions once the moratoriums expire.

This is why Congress needs to act to not only pass a lengthy moratorium but also to cancel outstanding rent so that tenants are not evicted once that moratorium expires.

Representative Ilhan Omar has proposed a bill that would do just that. The Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act wouldn’t just cancel all missed rental and mortgage payments, it would also cause missed payments to have no effect on people’s credit scores. Additionally, it would establish a fund that would allow landlords and mortgage holders to recuperate their losses, providing both owners and renters with a win-win situation. Since some landlords have been evicting tenants throughout this period, it would be important that such a fund reward landlords who have not evicted tenants and not compensate landlords’ for losses in general.

These provisions however only address temporary issues caused by the pandemic, and aren’t a permanent solution to housing insecurity. Housing and rental costs across the country have skyrocketed in recent months and the pandemic has increased homelessness across the country; cities across the country are grappling with a rise in encampments, which has prompted public backlash and police-led sweeps.

Even before the pandemic, homelessness increased by 2% from the year prior. Researchers say that over the next four years, the economic impact from the pandemic is expected to increase homelessness by 49%. When someone lacks secure housing, it makes it harder for them to access services like healthcare; considering that COVID-19 is now expected to become an endemic disease that will require routine vaccination, a sizable homeless population that has precarious access to care should cause us concern.

Rep. Omar’s bill would also create funds to facilitate the public purchase of some rental properties – a good start. Further solutions have been proposed by housing advocates in the form of a “Homes Guarantee“, which among other things – like universal rent control – calls for 12 million social housing units to be built.

When the pandemic hit more than a year ago, society made some quick rapid changes thinking the virus would only be with us for a while. Among these were programs like Project Roomkey, which were designed to house people in hotels so they did not have to stay in congregate settings like homeless shelters. The funding for these programs is now running out, and our focus is now on “getting back to normal,” but the virus and the problems it exacerbated will still be with us. We need long-term solutions, and we can start by cancelling rent.

Abdullah Shihipar is a writer who writes about public health, class, race and other issues. He has written for publications like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Jacobin among others. He has a B.Sc in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Toronto and a Masters of Public Health from Brown University.

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