An eleventh-hour request from the White House has kept several eviction freezes from thawing at least until the Fall.
The Biden Administration announced on July 29 that it wanted Congress to consider pushing the deadline for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction moratorium back until the end of September. The ban was set to expire on July 31, following a controversial extension by the CDC in late June.
“Given the recent spread of the Delta variant, including among those Americans both most likely to face evictions and lacking vaccinations, President Biden would have strongly supported a decision by the CDC to further extend this eviction moratorium to protect renters at this moment of heightened vulnerability,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki in a statement.
However, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress would need to sign off on any further CDC extensions after indicating that the agency overstepped its authority by implementing the ban initially.
The extension request has led other federal agencies to reconsider their deadlines, including the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).
Both agencies announced on July 30 their intentions to maintain their bans until Sept. 30. The decisions protect people living in federally insured, single-family properties and properties that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have acquired through foreclosure or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure transactions.
“We must continue to do everything within our authority to make sure that foreclosed borrowers who are impacted by the pandemic have the time and resources to secure safe and stable housing, whether it’s in their current homes, or by obtaining alternative housing options,” said Lopa P. Kolluri, principal deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Housing and FHA.
A U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey reports that roughly 1.2 million households are at risk of evictions in the next two months after the eviction moratorium has lifted.
While the moratorium has relieved financial distress that tenants have experienced since the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, landlord advocates have argued that it has come at the expense of mom-and-pop landlords and property owners.
“The pandemic created economic hardship for many renters across the country, something no American wanted to see,” said Charlie Oppler, president of The National Association of REALTORS®, in a statement. “Around half of all housing providers are mom-and-pop operations, and they also struggle. Without rental income, they cannot pay their bills or maintain their properties.”
Officials from the National Apartment Association (NAA) echoed similar sentiments, adding that another extension is putting housing providers at risk of financial ruin.
“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,” said NAA President and CEO Bob Pinnegar in a statement.
Pinnegar also stated that despite $73 billion in total existing rent debt, only $3 billion of the $47 billion in rental assistance had been distributed, and $26 billion remains unfunded.
“If the Administration and Congress want to keep the meter running through another eviction moratorium, they need to fully fund existing and future rent debt and get rental assistance flowing,” Pinnegar said.
The White House said that The Biden Administration is “committed to doing everything in its power to keep people safely and securely housed.”
That has included urging several federal departments to work with owners and operators of federally-assisted and financed rental housing to seek Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) before opting to evict tenants.
The statement also urged states and localities to speed up the rollout of ERA funding. Recent reports from the U.S. Treasury Department noted that the assistance rollout in May showed signs of ramping up. Still, the amount only accounts for a fraction of the $47 billion approved by Congress as part of two ERA programs.
Jordan Grice is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.