UNITED STATES NEWS

Biden to allow eviction moratorium to expire Saturday

Jul 29, 2021, 7:00 PM | Updated: Jul 30, 2021, 3:40 pm
In this June 9, 2021, photo, people hold a sign during a rally in Boston protesting housing evictio...

In this June 9, 2021, photo, people hold a sign during a rally in Boston protesting housing eviction. The Biden administration on Thursday, July 29, 2021, announced it will allow a nationwide ban on evictions to expire Saturday, July 31, 2021. The White House said President Joe Biden would have liked to extend the federal eviction moratorium due to spread of the highly contagious delta variant. Instead, Biden called on "Congress to extend the eviction moratorium to protect such vulnerable renters and their families without delay."(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

BOSTON (AP) — The Biden administration announced Thursday it will allow a nationwide ban on evictions to expire Saturday, arguing that its hands are tied after the Supreme Court signaled the moratorium would only be extended until the end of the month.

The White House said President Joe Biden would have liked to extend the federal eviction moratorium due to spread of the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus. Instead, Biden called on “Congress to extend the eviction moratorium to protect such vulnerable renters and their families without delay.”

“Given the recent spread of the delta variant, including among those Americans both most likely to face evictions and lacking vaccinations, President Biden would have strongly supported a decision by the CDC to further extend this eviction moratorium to protect renters at this moment of heightened vulnerability,” the White House said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has made clear that this option is no longer available.”

Aides to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Sherrod Brown, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, said the two are working on legislation to extend the moratorium. Democrats will try to pass a bill as soon as possible and are urging Republicans not to block it.

In the House, a bill was introduced Thursday to extended the moratorium until the end of the year. But the prospect of a legislative solution remained unclear.

The court mustered a bare 5-4 majority last month, to allow the eviction ban to continue through the end of July. One of those in the majority, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, made clear he would block any additional extensions unless there was “clear and specific congressional authorization.”

By the end of March, 6.4 million American households were behind on their rent, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. As of July 5, roughly 3.6 million people in the U.S. said they faced eviction in the next two months, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in June this would be the last time the moratorium would be extended when she set the deadline for July 31. It was initially put in place to prevent further spread of COVID-19 by people put out on the streets and into shelters.

Housing advocates and some lawmakers have called for the moratorium to be extended due to the increase in coronavirus cases and the fact so little rental assistance has been distributed.

Congress has allocated nearly $47 billion in assistance that is supposed to go to help tenants pay off months of back rent. But so far, only about $3 billion of the first tranche of $25 billion has been distributed through June by states and localities. Some states like New York have distributed almost nothing, while several have only approved a few million dollars.

“The confluence of the surging delta variant with 6.5 million families behind on rent and at risk of eviction when the moratorium expires demands immediate action,” said Diane Yentel, executive director of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

“The public health necessity of extended protections for renters is obvious. If federal court cases made a broad extension impossible, the Biden administration should implement all possible alternatives, including a more limited moratorium on federally backed properties.”

Gene Sperling, who is charged with overseeing implementation of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package, said it was key that states and local authorities speed up the rental assistance distribution.

“The message is that there are no excuses,” he told The Associated Press.

“States and cities across the country have shown these programs can work, that they can get money out the door effectively and efficiently,” he continued. “The fact that some states and cities are showing they can do this efficiently and effectively makes clear that there is no reason that every state and city shouldn’t be accelerating their funds to landlords and tenants, particularly in light of the end of the CDC eviction moratorium.”

The trouble getting rental assistance to those who need it has prompted the Biden administration to hold several events in the past month aimed at pressuring states and cities to increase their distribution, coax landlords to participate and make it easier for tenants to get money directly.

Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta also has released an open letter to state courts around the country encouraging them to pursue measures that would keep eviction cases out of the courts. On Wednesday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unveiled a tool that allows tenants to find information about rental assistance in their area.

Despite these efforts, some Democratic lawmakers had demanded the administration extend the moratorium.

“This pandemic is not behind us, and our federal housing policies should reflect that stark reality. With the United States facing the most severe eviction crisis in its history, our local and state governments still need more time to distribute critical rental assistance to help keep a roof over the heads of our constituents,” Democratic U.S. Reps. Cori Bush of Missouri, Jimmy Gomez of California and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts said in a joint statement.

But landlords, who have opposed the moratorium and challenged it repeatedly in court, were against any extension. They have argued the focus should be on speeding up the distribution of rental assistance.

This week, the National Apartment Association and several others this week filed a federal lawsuit asking for $26 billion in damages due to the impact of the moratorium.

“Any extension of the eviction moratorium equates to an unfunded government mandate that forces housing providers to deliver a costly service without compensation and saddles renters with insurmountable debt,” association president and CEO Bob Pinnegar said, adding that the current crisis highlights the need for more affordable housing.

“Our nation faces an alarming housing affordability disaster on the horizon — it’s past time for the government to enact responsible and sustainable solutions that ultimately prioritize making both renters and housing providers whole,” he added.

___

Associated Press Supreme Court reporter Mark Sherman and congressional reporter Kevin Freking contributed from Washington.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

United States News

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A Washington state prosecutor has decided not to file criminal charges ...
Associated Press

No charges for police who shot anti-fascist Portland suspect

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A Washington state prosecutor has decided not to file criminal charges against police who shot and killed an antifascist fugitive wanted in the highly publicized death last year of a right-wing demonstrator in Portland, Oregon, last year. A U.S. Marshals-led task force was trying to arrest Michael Reinoehl, 48, at an […]
11 hours ago
FILE - In this Oct. 10. 2012 file photo, a timber wolf named Comet is seen at the Timber Wolf Prese...
Associated Press

6 tribes sue Wisconsin to try to stop November wolf hunt

Six Native American tribes sued the state of Wisconsin on Tuesday to try to stop its planned gray wolf hunt in November, asserting that the hunt violates their treaty rights and endangers an animal they consider sacred. The Chippewa tribes say treaties give them rights to half of the wolf quota in territory they ceded […]
11 hours ago
This Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, photo, shows a Suffolk County Police Department missing person poste...
Associated Press

Gabby Petito story boosted by social media, true-crime craze

MIAMI (AP) — The disappearance and almost-certain death of Gabby Petito and the police hunt for her boyfriend have generated a whirlwind online, with a multitude of armchair detectives and others sharing tips, possible sightings and theories by way of TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. Whether the frenzy of attention and internet sleuthing has helped the […]
11 hours ago
FILE - In this image from video on Feb. 12, 2021, House impeachment manager Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-...
Associated Press

Latinos vastly underrepresented in media, new report finds

PHOENIX (AP) — Latinos are perpetually absent in major newsrooms, Hollywood films and other media industries where their portrayals — or lack thereof — could deeply impact how their fellow Americans view them, according to a government report released Tuesday. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus asked the U.S. Government Accountability Office to investigate last October. U.S. […]
11 hours ago
FILE - In this Aug. 3, 2021, file photo Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., flanked by Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, l...
Associated Press

Lawmakers attempt to revive nationwide eviction moratorium

Several progressive lawmakers on Tuesday introduced a bill that would reimpose a nationwide eviction moratorium at a time when deaths from COVID-19 are running at their highest levels since early March. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., said the bill would direct the secretary of Health and Human Services to implement a […]
11 hours ago
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro addresses the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly, Tuesday,...
Associated Press

Brazil’s Bolsonaro rebuffs criticism on pandemic, Amazon

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro issued a defense of his administration at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, rebuffing criticism of its handling of the pandemic and touting recent data indicating less Amazon deforestation. His presence at the General Assembly itself was something of a provocation, as he flouted the requirement […]
11 hours ago
Biden to allow eviction moratorium to expire Saturday