The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday unveiled a limited ban on eviction proceedings through the end of the year, saying the looming homelessness crisis stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to make the outbreak worse. The moratorium aims to help up to 40 million Americans who are struggling to pay rent due to increased unemployment and the depressed economy. The extraordinary use of CDC public health emergency powers stems from an executive order President Trump signed in August.
A 120-day eviction moratorium passed by Congress expired in July, along with $600-a-week supplemental unemployment benefits. Housing advocates generally welcomed the Trump administration's new policy while groups representing landlords objected, but there was broad agreement that direct rent payments or other congressional action is needed so renters don't face a massive bill come January. Along with four months of back rent, the draft moratorium also allows landlords to charge "fees, penalties, or interest as a result of the failure to pay rent or other housing payment on a timely basis" once it expires.
To qualify for the rent deferment, applicants will have to certify that they'll make under $99,000 this year, or $198,000 per couple, have made a good-faith effort to pay their rent, lost significant income this year, and would likely end up homeless or living in unsafely cramped quarters if they are evicted.
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"For low-income renters, all this does is delay the cliff that they'll face when the moratorium is over," Peggy Bailey, vice president for housing policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, tells The Washington Post. "It's good as an initial band-aid, but people are still going to be accruing rent-related debt."
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