The Biden Administration on Tuesday announced a new moratorium on rental evictions in areas that are experiencing ongoing problems with COVID-19.
The moratorium was issued through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which said in a statement that “evictions of tenants for failure to make rent or housing payments could be detrimental to public health control measures to slow the spread” of the coronavirus. The CDC also said the moratorium will extend through Oct. 3, and that it applies to areas experiencing “substantial and high levels of community transmission” of the virus.
News of the moratorium first came Tuesday afternoon via reports from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Associated Press and other media outlets. Though details on the extent of the eviction ban weren’t immediately available, some early estimates suggested it could cover as much as 90 percent of the U.S.
The CDC first banned rental evictions last year as the pandemic sent many sectors of the economy into free fall. At the time, the National Association of Realtors expressed sympathy toward struggling Americans but ultimately concluded that the “order as-written will bring chaos to our nation’s critical rental housing sector and put countless property owners out of business.”
Even as the end of the moratorium loomed, tenant advocacy groups and some Democratic lawmakers pushed for extensions or other protections for renters. Some leaders such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Rep. Cori Bush
went as far as sleeping on the steps of the U.S. Capitol overnight in protest, the Journal reported.
According to the Times, the Biden administration didn’t believe it legally had the ability to issue an extension to the first ban, and so opted for a new moratorium.
In Tuesday’s statement, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky attributed the need for a new moratorium to the rise of the delta variant of the coronavirus.
“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,” Walensky said. “This moratorium is the right thing to do to keep people in their homes and out of congregate settings where COVID-19 spreads.”
Update: This post was updated after publication with additional information from the CDC about the moratorium.