Politics With federal moratorium expiring, states and localities must step up

08:20  01 august  2021
08:20  01 august  2021 Source:   thehill.com

Congress fails to extend eviction moratorium, despite last-minute effort

  Congress fails to extend eviction moratorium, despite last-minute effort The bill would have extended the eviction freeze until Oct. 18, which is when the public health emergency declaration for COVID-19 is set to expire. The CDC placed a pause on evictions last September amid economic hardships experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite an emergency appeal from real estate agent associations, landlords and other groups that argued that the CDC had exceeded its authority by imposing a moratorium, the Supreme Court allowed the eviction freeze to remain intact until the end of July.

Today, an emergency federal policy that has stood between thousands or millions of families and eviction will lift. As of early this month, nearly 6.5 million renter households weren't caught up on rent, and an unknown proportion of these families will immediately face eviction as August begins.

a person holding a sign: With federal moratorium expiring, states and localities must step up © Getty Images With federal moratorium expiring, states and localities must step up

Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions is ending, Congress has sent tens of billions of dollars of emergency rental assistance (ERA) to state and local governments to patch over gaps of unpaid rent that accrued during the pandemic and economic crisis. The problem is that very little of this money has reached tenants. The vast bulk of the funding remains tied up in red tape as governments have scrambled throughout 2021 to set up a social welfare apparatus mostly from scratch. With the White House getting out of the business of pausing evictions, and in the absence of congressional action, state and local governments must step up to keep people housed during this crisis.

Lawmakers Call for Federal Eviction Moratorium Extension at Capitol Protest

  Lawmakers Call for Federal Eviction Moratorium Extension at Capitol Protest An 11-month freeze on rental evictions ended on Saturday, leaving more than 10 million Americans facing potential homelessness.The 11-month moratorium was originally introduced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when the COVID-19 pandemic first swept the country—and later extended—expired on Saturday night.

The CDC implemented the temporary moratorium on evictions last September to reflect the understanding that eviction can lead to increased transmission of COVID-19 and mortality. Throughout the pandemic, eviction protections have been a patchwork. The CARES Act included a moratorium on residential evictions from properties that touched federal financing. States and local governments implemented their own measures, too. The CDC moratorium promised housing stability for any qualifying renter living anywhere in the United States or its territories. As others have reported, that promise was not fulfilled everywhere, but an unknown number of households have remained housed temporarily because of this protection.

Anger mounts as Biden, Congress allow eviction ban to expire

  Anger mounts as Biden, Congress allow eviction ban to expire WASHINGTON (AP) — Anger and frustration mounted in Congress over the weekend as a nationwide eviction moratorium expired during a surge in the COVID-19 pandemic. One Democratic lawmaker even camped outside the Capitol in protest as millions of Americans faced being forced from their homes. Lawmakers said they were blindsided by President Joe Biden’s inaction as the midnight Saturday deadline neared, some furious that he called on Congress to provide a last-minute solution to protect renters. The rare division between the president and his party carried potential lasting political ramifications.New York Rep.

Moratoria and rental assistance are two sides of the same coin. A moratorium temporarily prevents landlords from moving forward with eviction cases. Rental assistance gives landlord-tenant pairs a way to resolve the dispute permanently. Without a moratorium, landlords lack a crucial incentive to seek out rental assistance. Research on ERA programs found that program administrators see landlord non-participation as a major hurdle to successful aid distribution. By the same token, without rental aid, a moratorium simply kicks the can down the road.

Lifting the eviction moratorium before the rental assistance has been fully distributed to families in need puts those families at risk for eviction and illness, as the Biden White House acknowledged in a statement Thursday. Analysis by the Eviction Lab, the research group where I work, found that eviction filings increased when the last federal moratorium expired and when local moratoria have lifted. The Supreme Court has put extending the moratorium without further action by Congress off the table. But states and cities don't have to - and should not - permit families to go into freefall with the CDC moratorium lifting this weekend.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Calls Out Democrats for Letting Eviction Moratorium Expire

  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Calls Out Democrats for Letting Eviction Moratorium Expire "There was frankly a handful of conservative Democrats in the house that threatened to get on planes rather than hold this vote," Ocasio-Cortez said.The New York Democrat said she could not "in good faith blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have the majority.

Video: What To Know About The US Eviction Moratorium Extension (Newsweek)

States can issue their own eviction moratoria, as many did earlier in the pandemic. A few states, like California and New Jersey, will keep eviction moratoria in place following Aug. 1. Courts could continue all eviction hearings until ERA programs have had enough time to reach families in need, and issue information about rental assistance directly to litigants. Governments could require landlords to pursue rental assistance or mediation prior to filing to evict the tenant for nonpayment of rent, as Philadelphia has done. States could require that courts not consider eviction cases for households that are waiting to hear back about rental assistance, a policy Minnesota and Oregon have put in place.

State and local governments can invest in eviction diversion programs (EDPs). These programs work to resolve problems between landlords and tenants outside of the courtroom. An effective EDP combines three elements: advocacy (someone to advocate on the tenant's behalf, ideally a legal aid lawyer); assistance (wraparound services that resolve the dispute, like rental assistance); and an alternative to court (like mediation or out-of-court settlement hearings). The White House has held two summits in recent weeks on eviction prevention, with policymakers and advocates from around the country Zooming in to explain their eviction prevention programs. Between the new federal funds and new resources and research from groups like the National Center for State Courts, the Urban Institute and Harvard's Dispute Systems Design Clinic, to name a few, it has never been easier to rethink how courts handle landlord-tenant disputes and move towards a new model with better outcomes for both groups.

AOC blames 'conservative Democrats' for expiring eviction moratorium

  AOC blames 'conservative Democrats' for expiring eviction moratorium Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Sunday blamed 'conservative Democrats' for allowing the federal eviction moratorium to expire overnight, causing millions of residents to be left at risk of removal from their homes. © Provided by Washington Examiner The federal eviction moratorium expired at midnight on Saturday despite efforts by top Democrats to expand the legislation that had been extended multiple times throughout the pandemic. During a Sunday interview on CNN, Ocasio-Cortez contended that the "House and House leadership had the opportunity to vote to extend the moratorium.

States and local governments can also improve their ERAs to streamline assistance and get money out the door faster. The National Low Income Housing Coalition has been a leader in researching and publishing best practices for rental assistance distribution. Back in spring and summer 2020, one could write off failures in ERA programs as a lack of experience or know-how. That isn't so true anymore. Research and resources on best practices are available, including advice directly from the Treasury Department, on topics like how to limit the documentation tenants need to submit with their applications.

What's most important is that states and local governments do not throw up their hands and allow a return to the status quo. Prior to the pandemic, in a normal year, landlords filed 3.7 million eviction cases in the United States. That was before the economic meltdown and childcare crisis, both of which have disproportionately burdened women and Black and Latinx families, groups that disproportionately experience eviction filings.

Every state and local jurisdiction can do something to keep families housed, even if that action is as simple as putting a table with a couple of ERA employees outside the door to the courtroom. With millions of families who are behind on rent at risk for eviction, all levels of government from Congress to the local justice of the peace must work to do whatever is possible to keep people housed.

Anne Kat Alexander is a researcher and project manager at the Eviction Lab at Princeton University.

Biden's new evictions moratorium faces legality doubts .
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden may have averted a flood of evictions and solved a growing political problem when his administration reinstated a temporary ban on evictions because of the COVID-19 crisis. But he left his lawyers with legal arguments that even he acknowledges might not stand up in court. The new eviction moratorium announced Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could run into opposition at the Supreme Court, where one justice in late June warned the administration not to act further without explicit congressional approval.

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