Once again, the clock is ticking on the federal government’s eviction moratorium as legal challenges to the order move through the court system and threaten to end the moratorium before its current October 3 expiration date. The current ban on evictions was put in place by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on August 3 after the previous ban was allowed to lapse on July 31 and a last-minute effort to reinstate the moratorium legislatively failed.
Unlike the previous eviction moratorium, the current version is limited to communities experiencing substantial or high transmission of COVID-19, as defined by the CDC. Given the recent nationwide spike in cases, the ban currently covers nearly the entire country.
Now, the onus is on Congress to pass an extended and enhanced eviction moratorium to ensure that families who rent their homes aren’t put at risk of eviction. If Congress fails to act, the eviction moratorium will lapse again on October 3 or potentially earlier if the courts strike down the eviction ban in the coming days or weeks.
Roughly 15 million people in 6.5 million renter households are currently behind on their rent and face an increased risk of eviction. At the same time, federal rental assistance has been slow to reach families in need. Though the distribution of rental assistance has increased in recent weeks, the program has been beset by administrative hurdles for renters and limited by its structure, which consists of an irregular patchwork of assistance programs. The effectiveness of rental assistance programs varies from state to state and even from county to county.
To protect these families and their children, Congress should extend the moratorium until the pandemic is over and all the emergency rental assistance provided in previous COVID-relief bills has reached renters in need.
In the meantime, families who are behind on their rent should take the following steps to get assistance:
- Provide a signed declaration to your landlord indicating that you are eligible for assistance.
- Call 2-1-1, visit 211.org, or use the National Low-Income Housing Coalition’s database to find a rental assistance program near you and apply for assistance.
- Renters may also visit the unified federal housing assistance portal hosted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for more general information about the Emergency Rental Assistance program.
To learn more about CDF’s policy demands to robustly invest in housing vouchers, public housing, and the National Housing Trust Fund (HTF) in the next reconciliation package, click here.