At the heels of an expiring national moratorium order, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new, more limited two-month eviction moratorium on Tuesday, August 8th. Unlike the previous order, the new ban on evictions only applies to parts of the United States experiencing a “substantial” or “high” spread of coronavirus — which, according to the CDC, is the majority of U.S. counties. Once again it only applies to renters who have an annual income of less than $100,000, are making payments to the best of their ability, and are trying to secure governmental aid.
“In the context of a pandemic, eviction moratoria — like quarantine, isolation, and social distancing — can be an effective public health measure utilized to prevent the spread of communicable disease. Eviction moratoria facilitate self-isolation and self-quarantine by people who become ill or who are at risk of transmitting COVID-19 by keeping people out of congregate settings and in their own homes,” reads the CDC statement.
The statement also notes that, “the COVID-19 vaccination effort has a slower rate of penetration among the populations most likely to experience evictions.” “In combination with continued underlying COVID-19 spread,” and new variants, there is “considerable risk for rapid transmission of COVID-19.”
While this comes as a relief to those behind on rent and at risk of eviction, not everyone is happy and legal challenges lie ahead.
The Moratorium and Its Discontents
Constitutional scholars say that any new moratorium is likely to be doomed. In late June, the Supreme Court ruled on Alabama Association of Realtors v. Department of Health and Human Services and decided that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not have the authority to issue a nationwide eviction moratorium, though they allowed the current order to run its course. Only congress has the power to extend the moratorium, said the Court, which would require new legislation. The President himself previously admitted the CDC did not have the authority to issue another moratorium, but after unsuccessful attempts to get something passed in the house, the White House changed its tone.
Now, landlords and real estate groups are banding together to try to strike down the new policy. Just a day after the CDC issued a new order, the Alabama and Georgia Associations of Realtors sent a petition to Washington saying that the CDC does not have the power to halt evictions and acted unlawfully.
If they are successful in their attempt to invalidate the order, millions of Americans who are behind on their rent or struggling to obtain federal aid will face the threat of eviction, placing the responsibility back on Capitol Hill.