The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has extended its nationwide moratorium on evictions through June 30, pushing it back from the end of March, when it had been scheduled to lapse.
The move, while widely expected, comes at a precarious moment in the pandemic as the increasing vaccine availability accelerates reopening plans by businesses and local governments — even as millions of families continue to struggle with hardships that might have led to mass evictions.
The CDC issued the moratorium last fall, citing its jurisdictional authority to implement measures needed to promote public health, and agency officials cited those same powers in extending the moratorium Monday.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a historic threat to the nation’s public health,” the agency’s director, Rochelle Walensky, said in a statement. “Keeping people in their homes and out of crowded or congregate settings — like homeless shelters — by preventing evictions is a key step in helping to stop the spread.”
Under President Joe Biden, the Department of Housing and Urban Development earlier this year extended its own moratorium on federally financed housing to June 30.
The new housing secretary, Marcia Fudge, has signaled she would like to extend her agency’s eviction freeze even longer. Department officials have reached out to community groups to elicit suggestions on how to streamline the new rule.
The administration’s $1.9 trillion relief package, passed earlier this month, includes $21.5 billion for emergency rental assistance, $5 billion in emergency housing vouchers, $5 billion for homelessness assistance and $850 million for tribal and rural housing. But that aid will take months to be disbursed.
Initially, the CDC ban was riddled with loopholes that allowed some landlords to evict some tenants. But overall, it helped to create a significant drop in eviction applications filed in local housing courts.
The federal moratorium is part of a patchwork of federal, state and local efforts to prevent a national health and economic emergency from turning into a monumental housing collapse.
Most states — 43 in all, plus Washington, D.C. — have temporarily halted evictions during the crisis. But the range of protections varies wildly, and some tenants, including in the New York City neighborhoods hit hardest by COVID, have been displaced because they were unaware of the protections.
As many as 1 in 5 renters said they did not pay last month’s rent, according to Census Bureau surveys, with a third of Black renters reporting a recent missed payment.