Within hours of his Wednesday inauguration, President Biden signed a number of executive orders designed to combat the continuing Covid-19 crisis, including one asking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to delay expiration of a federal eviction moratorium.
In response, the CDC extended the current order temporarily barring landlords from ousting some tenants for nonpayment of rent until at least March 31, 2021. The earlier order had been set to expire January 31, 2021.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a historic threat to our nation’s health,” said new CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH in a statement. “It has also triggered a housing affordability crisis that disproportionately affects some communities.”
The CDC’s order will keep some of the country’s most vulnerable citizens from being pushed out of their homes and deeper in debt during a public health emergency that has devastated the U.S. economy, and put 22 million Americans out of work last year, according to Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi.
In what amounts to a tragic coincidence for many, the COVID-19 pandemic struck amid what was already a severe affordable housing crisis in the U.S., when 20.8 million renter households (47.5% of all renter households) were already rental cost-burdened, according to 2018 numbers by the Aspen Institute. Rental cost burden is defined as households who pay more than 30% of their income towards rent.
The moratorium protects those at-risk of eviction due to non-payment of rent provided that they fall within the income bracket provided and can prove hardship due to the coronavirus.
Individuals with an estimated yearly income under $99,000 or joint-filing couples under $198,000 for 2020 are eligible, providing that their failure to pay rent is due to the coronavirus pandemic and that they would be displaced and forced into a “shared living” situation.
However, the order doesn’t forgive payments, interest or late fees, nor does it waive any obligations detailed in leases or housing contracts or include foreclosures on home mortgages. It only prevents eviction resulting from non-payment.
To qualify, tenants, lessees, or residents of residential properties who are covered by the CDC's order temporarily halting residential evictions must sign and submit a declaration under penalty of perjury that—among other criteria—they:
- lost income due to the pandemic
- made efforts to obtain assistance
- are unable to afford housing
- have no other options
- meet the income guidelines
- may be liable for fees, penalties, or interest for not paying rent on time as required by a lease agreement, or similar contract
- may be required to make payment in full or face eviction when the moratorium expires
Despite extensive mitigation efforts, COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly throughout the nation, with the U.S. reporting its second-highest daily death toll of 4,375 this week, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The cumulative U.S. death toll from the pandemic now stands at more than 406,000, with the nation reporting more than 24.4 million cases of Covid-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
To learn more about the CDC’s order, see “CDC Eviction Moratorium - Now What?” For more on actions to help renters and homeowners in crisis, check out the concluding section in “Understanding Recently Updated Federal Housing Moratorium Extensions.” Both can be found on the ABC Legal Blog.
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