Biden Weighs Extending Federal Freeze on Evictions

Biden Weighs Extending Federal Freeze on Evictions people protest holding signs that say cancel rent Renters and housing advocates attend a protest to cancel rent and avoid evictions in front of the court house amid Coronavirus pandemic on Aug. 21, 2020, in Los Angeles, California. (VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

By Brian Freeman | Tuesday, 22 June 2021 10:01 AM

The White House is considering extending the federal moratorium on evictions in an attempt to create additional time to complete the allocation of emergency housing aid, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.

Three people with knowledge of the situation said the White House is weighing extending by one month the moratorium, which was initiated in the fall during the Trump administration and is scheduled to expire at the end of June.

The freeze has significantly lessened the economic damage to lower income renters during the coronavirus pandemic.

Over the weekend, the administration considered several options, including extending the deadline until the end of July, but the White House Counsel’s Office is worried that doing so could expose the order to a court ruling that could affect executive actions in future crises, one of the officials said.

The lawyers are especially apprehensive that the Supreme Court will strike down a stay in a lower court decision that ruled the moratorium unconstitutional.

This is because last month a federal judge vacated the eviction freeze across the country in a case brought by landlords on the grounds that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which gave the order, exceeded its authority with the temporary ban, The Hill reported.

Later in May, the White House gained some time as U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich agreed to delay the enforcement of the ruling and let the moratorium stay in effect while the the decision was appealed by the Biden administration.

President Joe Biden’s team on the issue is trying to come up with other ideas to get around this problem, such as seeking ways to speed up the distribution of $21.5 billion in emergency rental aid that was allocated in the American Recovery Act this spring, according to The New York Times.

But groups defending the rights of tenants downplay the significance of these alternative options and insist that an extension of the freeze is vital.

"Extending the moratorium is the right thing to do – morally, fiscally, politically, and as a continued public health measure," said National Low Income Housing Coalition president Diane Yentel. "Allowing evictions to proceed when there are tens of billions in resources to prevent them would be wasteful and cruel."

Original Article