Biden needs Congress to extend federal evictions ban after Supreme Court ruling

The White House confirmed Thursday that President Biden will allow a federal eviction moratorium to expire on Saturday, but said he wants Congress to pass new protections due to the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s hands are tied by a recent Supreme Court decision that found there would need to be congressional authorization to extend a CDC-imposed ban on evictions beyond July 31.

“Given the recent spread of the Delta variant … Biden would have strongly supported a decision by the CDC to further extend this eviction moratorium,” Psaki said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has made clear that this option is no longer available,” Psaki said.

“In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling, the president calls on Congress to extend the eviction moratorium to protect such vulnerable renters and their families without delay.”

Maricopa County constable Darlene Martinez escorts a family out of their apartment after serving an eviction order for non-payment on September 30, 2020.
The federal eviction moratorium will expire on Saturday unless Congress acts.
Getty Images

About 2.3 million homeowners and about 6.2 million renters — or one in seven, as of late March — aren’t on top of payments, according to a recent Harvard University housing report.

A wave of evictions could lower soaring real estate prices and allow owners to get back on their feet by getting rid of non-paying tenants. But it’s also a political liability for Biden, who regularly emphasizes the effects of the pandemic on lower-income people, especially on mothers unable to work due to enhanced child care duties caused by schools closing.

The CDC’s eviction moratorium was set up last year by President Donald Trump after Congress deadlocked on COVID-19 relief legislation that would have extended an initial legislated moratorium.

Although the moratorium was legally dubious, Trump said he had to act due to partisan gridlock. Trump also unilaterally resurrected a federal unemployment supplement and paused federal student loan payments and interest.

A patchwork of state and local policies will replace the federal evictions ban, and the White House has said it’s encouraging states to adopt diversion plans for people who agree to get back on track with rent.

People and students from Worker's Circle of Boston and members of City Life Vida Urbana protest to rally support behind house bill HD3030, which seeks to stop evictions during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, at the Massachusetts State House in Boston on March 14, 2021.
Evictions could lower soaring real estate prices.
Boston Globe via Getty Images

New York’s state eviction moratorium ends on Aug. 31. Tenants and landlords are eligible for federal rental assistance.

Psaki said the Biden administration will keep in place some eviction protections that aren’t covered by the Supreme Court ruling.

The president “has 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, which will provide continued protection for households living in federally insured, single-family properties,” Psaki said.

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