The Biden Administration has extended through June 30 the limited eviction moratorium originally announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in September 2020. The latest extension was announced on March 29 by CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.

“No counties are currently considered free of spread, and only 8 percent of counties are considered to have low transmission,” Walensky wrote in that order, adding that the continuing problems caused the agency to “conclude that immediate action is again necessary.” That extension does not change the terms of the moratorium, which have remained the same since it first was announced in September 2020. 

The moratorium applies only to cases based on nonpayment of rent. A tenant seeking the protection of that moratorium must provide a written declaration to the landlord, or other person who has a legal right to have the tenant evicted or removed, affirming various relevant facts under penalty of perjury. A more user-friendly declaration form for tenants was issued along with the latest extension.

The limited nature of the moratorium, and the narrow interpretation of it by the federal government and some courts (under which many eviction steps other than actual execution of an eviction may proceed), have been criticized. Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, says that “many tenants are being evicted in spite of the protections.” She called on the Biden administration to “strengthen the order and close the loopholes that some landlords have exploited to continue evicting renters from their homes.”  

Other housing-related assistance was provided in the $1.9 trillion relief legislation signed by President Biden on March 11. It contains $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. That statute authorizes other financial relief too, such as $1,400 stimulus payments for most Americans who have an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less ($150,000 or less for married couples filing jointly; $112,500 or less for heads of household).

EHI is among the many housing organizations that have engaged in letter-writing campaigns to members of Congress and federal Executive Branch officials, since the early days of the public health emergency, urging such measures for relief of tenants, homeowners, landlords and mortgage lenders. It will be crucial to enact comprehensive, enduring housing relief measures until the Covid-19 emergency is thoroughly resolved.