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Statement from NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel on the COVID Relief Bill and Emergency Relief for Renters

WASHINGTON, DC – Congress is about to vote on a bill that will provide immediate and essential relief to millions of struggling renters, preventing tens of millions of people from losing their homes in January. The bill extends the CDC’s federal eviction moratorium through January 31, keeping struggling renters housed and preventing further spread of and deaths from COVID-19, and includes $25 billion in emergency rental assistance. The bill also extends the spending deadline for certain CRF funds, some of which are allocated for rental assistance.

The CDC eviction moratorium is set to expire on Dec. 31. At that time, renters will owe an estimated $30B to $70B in back rent, more than they can possibly pay off. If Congress does not enact this bill immediately, tens of millions of people are at risk of losing their homes this winter with catastrophic consequences – for children, families, communities, and our country’s ability to contain the pandemic. Increased evictions will lead to increased spread of, and potentially deaths from, COVID-19.

While extending the CDC eviction moratorium for just one month is insufficient to keep people housed for the duration of the pandemic, the extension provides essential and immediate protection for millions of renters on the verge of losing their homes in January. Extending the moratorium through January provides time for emergency rental assistance to be distributed, and for President-elect Biden to improve and further extend the moratorium immediately after being sworn into office.

Similarly, while $25 billion in emergency rental assistance is clearly not enough to meet the estimated $70 billion in accrued back rent or the ongoing need for rental assistance to keep families stably housed, these resources are essential and desperately needed. Targeting the funds to the lowest-income people will help ensure those most at risk of eviction are assisted first.  Congress should enact this compromise legislation immediately, then get back to work in January on comprehensive solutions.