Amid the growing number of Delta variant cases around the country, Democrats on Capitol Hill are pushing for a new solution to ensure a moratorium on rents.
The Supreme Court’s suspension of the emergency eviction moratorium late last week has Representatives Cori Bush, along with fellow Democrats Rep. Ayanna Presley, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex and Rep, Jimmy Gomez and 60 other lawmakers pushing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to ensure an extension on the moratorium.
“As your fellow colleagues, we implore you to act with the highest levels of urgency to advance a permanent legislative solution in a must pass legislative vehicle in order to extend the life-saving federal eviction moratorium for the duration of the deadly global health crisis. We must continue to curb the spread of the Delta variant using every legislative tool at our disposal in Congress.”
This, after the Supreme Court wrote, “It is indisputable that the public has a strong interest in combating the spread of the COVID–19 Delta variant. But our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends. It is up to Congress, not the CDC, to decide whether the public interest merits further action here.” (Story continues below.)
Indeed, if a federally imposed eviction moratorium were to continue then, “Congress must specifically authorize it,” the court ruled in a 6-3 decision late Thursday, with the court’s three liberal justices dissenting.
Landlords have argued the moratorium put an undue financial burden on them.
“About half of all housing providers are mom-and-pop operators, and without rental income, they cannot pay their own bills or maintain their properties,” National Association of Realtors President Charlie Oppler said.
“NAR has always advocated the best solution for all parties was rental assistance paid directly to housing providers to cover the rent and utilities of any vulnerable tenants during the pandemic. No housing provider wants to evict a tenant and considers it only as a last resort,” he continued.
Meanwhile, according to the Center Square, critics of the government’s now defunct moratorium on evictions have pointed out that much of the billions of dollars allocated by the federal government for rental assistance is still sitting in state coffers, unspent because of red tape and bureaucracy.
“For example, recent reporting found that in Missouri, the State Assistance for Housing Relief Program (SAFHR), had distributed just 5.2% of the $590 million in funds allocated for federal rental assistance.
‘This was entirely avoidable, especially if the Administration properly managed and ensured the rental assistance Congress had already passed was sent to people who needed it,’ said Rep. Cathay McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. ‘President Biden said himself extending the unlawful eviction moratorium was ‘not likely to pass constitutional muster.’ Now, as predicted, we have more uncertainty and confusion. It’s because of the administration’s mismanagement and disregard for the rule of law.’ ”
The moratorium was essentially a nationwide ban on evictions and was put in place by the CDC last Fall. In June, the Supreme Court had voted to allow the eviction ban to continue through the end of July but said it would not allow further extensions with a “clear and specific congressional authorization.”
Thus far, Pelosi has not indicated that the House will return from recess to pass any such legislation.
The White House has said that President Biden supports extension efforts in Congress but that action at the state level is also needed.