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President Biden said he would have supported an extension of the moratorium but the administration was bound by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
The Biden administration said it will allow the nationwide eviction moratorium to expire Saturday, acknowledging a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that indicated congressional authorization would be required to further extend the protections.
Citing the spread of the Delta strain of the coronavirus, the White House said Thursday that 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.”
When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last extended the moratorium through July 31, the agency indicated it would be the final extension. The U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling last month that rejected a plea by landlords to strike the ban sooner and allowed the eviction moratorium to remain in place through the end of July.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who sided with liberal members of the court to keep the ban in place, issued a brief written decision that made clear he would only support a temporary extension.
“In my view, clear and specific congressional authorization (via new legislation) would be necessary for the CDC to extend the moratorium past July 31,” Kavanaugh wrote.
Since September, the national eviction moratorium has provided protection for the nation’s 43 million renters during the coronavirus pandemic. An estimated 4 million to 6 million renters are behind on payments by several months and are considered at high risk for eviction when the ban is lifted.
Congress approved $47 billion in emergency rent relief programs to help those who had fallen behind on payments get caught up before the eviction ban expires. But state and local governments have been slow to design and implement rent relief programs.
With the CDC moratorium set to expire, Biden urged state and local governments to accelerate their efforts to distribute emergency rental assistance.
“With some cities and states demonstrating their ability to release these funds efficiently to tenants and landlords in need, there can be no excuse for any state or locality not to promptly deploy the resources that Congress appropriated to meet this critical need of so many Americans,” the White House said in the statement issued Thursday.
The White House is also encouraging other action to provide protection for at-risk renters. Biden has called on Congress to extend the moratorium, and asked the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture and Veterans Affairs to extend their respective eviction moratoria through the end of September. Those eviction bans provide protection to a much smaller subsection of renters.
Andrea Noble is a staff correspondent with Route Fifty.