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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may take steps to extend the national eviction moratorium that has been in effect since September and is now scheduled to expire at the end of March.
The CDC has submitted a proposal to the Office of Management and Budget for regulatory review, which experts say indicates that the health agency is taking steps to keep protection in place as coronavirus cases rise in many states and millions. of Americans are behind on their rent. .
“It is not a guarantee, but submission to OMB means the administration is likely to extend the CDC order on evictions,” said Shamus Roller, executive director of the National Housing Bill.
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Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, agreed, saying it was “very likely” that the ban will be extended before it expires in nine days.
CDC spokesman Jason McDonald said no decision has been made to extend the moratorium. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Landlord groups have opposed the eviction ban, saying the pandemic has lasted for more than a year and that they cannot continue to house tenants for free and allow them to accumulate arrears.
“Short-term policies like the eviction moratorium leave tenants piling up insurmountable debt and jeopardize the ability of rental housing providers to provide safe and affordable housing,” said Bob Pinnegar, president of the National Apartment Association. .
Housing advocates note that Congress has now allocated more than $ 45 billion in rental assistance to address those arrears, saying it would be a waste of that money to allow evictions to continue before they reach tenants and their residents. owners.
“President Biden should extend the moratorium until the emergency rental assistance funds are spent,” Yentel said.
Recent research has found that evictions have led to as many as 400,000 additional coronavirus cases during the pandemic because many displaced people hang out with family or friends or are forced into crowded shelters.
“Increasing evictions leads to further spread and potentially deaths from Covid-19,” Yentel said.
In January, nearly 20% of renters in the US were behind on their housing payments.
Calls to Improve CDC’s Eviction Ban
Although the CDC has banned most evictions amid the public health crisis, many landlords are evicting their tenants anyway.
Since the CDC ban went into effect, Jim Baker, executive director of the Private Equity Stakeholders Project, has tallied nearly 50,000 new eviction cases filed by corporate owners in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Tennessee and Texas. only.
During the same period, The Eviction Lab at Princeton University has identified more than 180,000 evictions in the five states and 19 cities it tracks.
Another report found that the CDC ban stopped less than 10% of eviction cases in Harris County, Texas, where most of Houston is located.
Housing experts say that to truly stop evictions during the public health crisis, tenants shouldn’t have to apply for protection; rather, all steps in an eviction must be left to court and clear penalties must be established for landlords who violate the law.
Matthew Turner is one of the millions of Americans struggling to pay their rent during the pandemic.
Matthew Turner (right) and her husband, Gerard.
Photo: Matthew Turner
In October, he was fired from his consulting job. He and his husband, Gerard, have spent all their savings and sold their furniture, including their bed, to stay at home for the past few months. They currently sleep on the floor of their two-bedroom apartment in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Now they have no options and will not be able to pay April’s rent. If they are forced to leave, Turner says they will have to sleep in his truck.
He hopes the CDC ban will be extended, but says it needs to be improved as well. In recent months, he has witnessed the eviction of many of his neighbors despite the law.
“I see people leaving every day, bringing their furniture and throwing it in the trash can,” said Turner, 48. “It just doesn’t reach people here. I don’t feel safe at all.”