Democrats’ Nightmare: Eviction Moratorium Expiration
Americans who haven’t paid rent for the past 16 months are begging Democrats to extend the eviction moratorium that expired on July 31st.
In June, the Supreme Court said that Congress would need to authorize any extension.
President Biden asked Congress to pass an emergency extension before the ban expired. But lawmakers were unable to reach a deal before they left the Capitol Saturday for a seven-week recess. At least 10 House Democrats opposed a plan to extend the moratorium, reports Politico.
“The House and House leadership had the opportunity to vote to extend the moratorium, and there was frankly a handful of conservative Democrats in the House who threatened to get on planes rather than hold this vote,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). “We have to really just call a spade a spade. We cannot, in good faith, blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have the majority.”
Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) actually slept outside the Capitol Building Friday night in protest.
“I cannot in good conscience leave Washington tonight while a Democratic-controlled government allows millions of people to go unhoused as the Delta variant is ravaging our communities,” she wrote in a letter to her colleagues.
Surveys suggest up to 3.6 million households will face eviction over the next two months.
“Eviction is already violent. But to evict people in the midst of a pandemic is cruel, inhumane, unacceptable, and 100% preventable,” added Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), who joined Bush on the Capitol steps Friday night.
On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) appealed to President Biden for help. She then pressed the Treasury Department to assist local governments distribute federal aid money.
“Action is needed, and it must come from the Administration,” said Pelosi. “That is why House leadership is calling on the Administration to immediately extend the moratorium.”
On Tuesday, the CDC issued a limited eviction moratorium scheduled to end October 3rd. The ban applies to regions of the US experiencing “substantial” or “high” spread of COVID.
“Where we are right now with such high disease rates, we felt a new, tailored order [was needed] to make sure that…working Americans who were at risk of eviction could be stably housed during this really tenuous, challenging period of time,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
Last September, the CDC announced an eviction moratorium applying to all tenants earning less than $99,000 per year and who claimed they had lost income due to COVID-19. Many argue that the ban was outside the agency’s authority to impose. The Trump Administration extended it once, and the Biden Administration extended it thrice.
“The eviction moratorium was perhaps justifiable amid the early lockdowns that threw millions out of work, but it’s now a cautionary tale of how bad policies distort behavior and are difficult to end,” wrote The Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board.
State and local governments also received more than $46 billion in January to assist renters. But they have distributed just $3 billion so far.
“The state and local governments in charge of distributing the aid have been hobbled by bureaucracy, and some tenants without the immediate threat of eviction haven’t bothered to apply,” continued the Editorial Board. “This is what happens when people become inured to government protection and subsidies. They assume it will never end. Has Congress heard of incentives and human nature?”
The same thing happened with the enhanced unemployment benefits offered during the pandemic. Many Americans were happy to receive money for free and decided to stop applying for jobs.
Some people even quit their jobs knowing they could earn more money through unemployment programs than they could working full-time at minimum wage. Out-of-work residents in Tennessee are actually suing the state’s governor to reinstate the unemployment benefits despite widespread job availability.
In the meantime, landlords are struggling to pay their bills without collecting rent. And it’s not their fault that the distribution of federal aid has been slow.
“The moral imperative now is to let landlords collect rent so they can stay in business and avoid bankruptcies that would lead to cascading damage throughout the rental housing market,” adds the Editorial Board.
Author’s Note: Democrats are learning the hard way that it’s very difficult to take back a gift once you give it. Nobody wants to pay rent. And some people are now used to the idea of living on the government’s dime.
But with the economy improving and businesses desperate for workers, it is long past time to end these emergency provisions and get Americans back to work.