U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has signed an order determining the evictions of tenants for failure to make rent or housing payments could be detrimental to public health control measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. The CDC order will expire Sunday, October 3, 2021, and applies in U.S. counties experiencing substantial community transmission levels of COVID-19.
The eviction moratorium will allow for additional time for rent relief to reach renters and increase vaccination rates. In the context of a pandemic, eviction moratoria—like quarantine, isolation, and social distancing—can be an effective public health measure utilized to prevent the spread of communicable disease. Eviction moratoria facilitate self-isolation and self-quarantine by people who become ill or who are at risk of transmitting COVID-19 by keeping people out of congregate settings and in their own homes.
It is estimated that the CDC order will cover 80% of U.S. counties and 90% of the U.S. population.
“The emergence of the Delta variant has led to a rapid acceleration of community transmission in the United States, putting more Americans at increased risk, especially if they are unvaccinated,” said Dr. Walensky. “This moratorium is the right thing to do to keep people in their homes and out of congregate settings where COVID-19 spreads. It is imperative that public health authorities act quickly to mitigate such an increase of evictions, which could increase the likelihood of new spikes in SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Such mass evictions and the attendant public health consequences would be very difficult to reverse.”
Congressional representatives have taken a number of actions over the past week to extend the eviction moratorium which expired July 31.
Late last week, Rep. Maxine Waters, House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman, introduced H.R. 4791—Protecting Renters from Evictions Act of 2021, a measure that would extend the eviction moratorium through December 31, 2021.
“This is a tragedy, and I’m so sorry for it,” Rep. Waters posted on Twitter. “And for those people that are resisting it, and I just heard about Representative Bush sleeping on the steps of the Capitol, you know, do everything you can. Fight ‘till the last breath for our renters and our most vulnerable people in our society, and see what we can do to eliminate them becoming homeless.”
A Congressional contingent of Reps. Cori Bush, Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Pressley slept outside the U.S. Capitol on Friday night in a form of protest over the expiration of the eviction moratorium. Rep. Bush sent a letter to her colleagues urging them to remain in Washington, D.C. ahead of their scheduled August recess. She pushed for an urgent vote to extend the federal eviction moratorium.
"Grateful," Rep. Bush tweeted as she shared an image of several House Democrats who joined her crusade in protest of the eviction ban's end.
A victim of eviction at one time herself, Rep. Bush urged her colleagues to take action before Congress was scheduled to take their recess beginning August 1. Speaking before the Senate floor in an emergency meeting Saturday morning, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, member of the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, urged Congress to extend the emergency eviction moratorium.
“We have the tools, and we have the funding. What we need is more time,” said Sen. Warren in her address. “Look, I agree that an eviction moratorium is not a long-term solution. But let me be very clear: it is the right short-term action. It’s how we keep families safely in their homes while states deliver emergency aid. It’s how we help families who are just starting to recover from the worst economic crisis of their lifetimes get back on their feet. Millions of jobs lost, businesses still shuttered, and childcare for too many families a patchwork of uncertainty. The recovery underway in this country is historic and it will continue, but it has not yet reached every family.”