Three days after the federal eviction ban lapsed, President Biden is expected to introduce a new moratorium that would freeze proceedings for up to 60 days in areas with the highest rates of new Covid infections.
The White House expects those areas to cover about 90 percent of the nation’s renters, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
Like using duct tape to stop a major leak, landlords see the possibility of yet another stay on evictions as a short-lived solution where a more sustainable fix exists.
“There is one solution to end the eviction narrative — get the billions of available federal rent relief dollars into the hands of tenants so they can pay months of rent arrears, and so that landlords can catch up,” said Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association, a New York-based landlord group.
On Tuesday, House Democrats pressured Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to work harder to get funds into the hands of those in need, according to the Times. Yellen said her team was using all available tools to get money to states and help states distribute those funds to landlords and tenants.
So far, states have distributed only $3 billion of the $46 billion in available rent relief, according to Treasury Department data cited by the Los Angeles Times.
The National Apartment Association, another landlord group, echoed Strasburg’s statements, calling on the White House and Congress to “fully fund existing and future rent debt and get rental assistance flowing or face a housing affordability catastrophe,” president Bob Pinnegar said in a statement.
For the NAA, that means more than distributing earmarked relief funds. The group sued the federal government last week for damages to cover the rental revenue landlords have lost during the eviction moratorium. The suit estimated that the current amount of federal funds earmarked for rent relief would fall short of the total amount owed to landlords by nearly $27 billion.
A narrower, targeted moratorium could provide a workaround to a Supreme Court ruling indicating that any further extensions of the ban would require congressional approval, the Times said. Legislation that would have green lit an extension died in the House last week after Democratic leaders failed to rally sufficient support, the Hill reported.
However, politicians frequently propose solutions that are likely to garner favor with a base — in this case, tenant groups that called for an extension — even if they’re unlikely to hold up legally. One such example is the series of anti-abortion bills introduced this year in states with Democratic governors.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday said the CDC had been “unable to find legal authority for a new, targeted eviction moratorium” but was “redoubling efforts,” the Times reported.