As the Delta variant surges and our understanding of its dangers grow, over 6.5 million renter households remain behind on rent and at heightened risk of losing both their homes and their ability to stay safe during the pandemic. On July 26, NLIHC urged the White House and Congress to extend the CDC eviction moratorium; on July 27, NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel testified before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis to emphasis the urgency. But in a devastating failure to act in a moment of crisis, Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court allowed the eviction moratorium to expire on July 31.
On July 29, the White House punted responsibility for extending the federal eviction moratorium to Congress - 48 hours before its expiration – stating that the CDC could not extend it after the Supreme Court tied its hands. On the evening of July 30, after a last-ditch and ultimately failed effort by Democrats to extend the moratorium, the House left for summer break. Chairwoman Maxine Waters – and so many of you - fought fiercely to protect renters, but the inaction of others put the lives of renters at risk and threatens our collective public health.
With both the White House and Congress unable or unwilling to extend it, the federal eviction moratorium expired on July 31.
Our collective work to keep renters stably and safely housed is more important and urgent than ever. Immediate action must be taken at federal, state and local levels.
For Renters in Need of Assistance
If you or someone you know needs emergency rental assistance:
- Call 2-1-1 or visit www.211.org. 2-1-1 will connect you to a local call center that can share information about local programs that might be able to help.
- Find your local rental assistance program using NLIHC’s database. More than 1,000 emergency rental assistance programs have been created or expanded the pandemic, and Congress has provided $46 billion to help renters remain stably housed. If you haven’t yet, apply right away – it will take time for the money to get to you and your landlords.
- Contact a legal aid attorney. Get further guidance from a legal aid attorney. A list of legal aid organizations can be found here and here.
- Contact your representatives and senators. District office staff often know of available state/local resources, and it’s very important that your members of Congress hear about the housing challenges you are facing.
Immediate Federal Actions
The Biden administration must immediately take every possible action to protect renters. The administration should implement an eviction moratorium for renters living in all federally assisted properties and consider a moratorium for properties with federally backed mortgages. The Department of Justice should direct courts to stop evictions for renters applying for ERA and urge courts to work with ERA programs to prioritize aid for those renters most at risk. The Treasury Department should eliminate barriers that continue to prevent ERA programs from serving households in need, and the CDC should require landlords to provide 30-days’ notice to renters before beginning eviction actions.
Congress and the Biden administration must fix the gaps in our federal housing safety net – gaps that brought us to the brink of an eviction tsunami during a global pandemic – by enacting the #HoUSed campaign’s long-term policy agenda. The first – and best – opportunity to advance this agenda is in the infrastructure and economic recovery packages that Congress will work on this week. Congress must enact the #HoUSed campaign’s top priorities: expanding rental assistance to all eligible households, $70 billion to preserve public housing, and at least $45 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund.
Immediate State and Local Action
With Congress and the Biden administration failing to extend a broad eviction moratorium to keep renters stably housed during the pandemic, state and local governments must take action by:
- Quickly creating or extending state and local eviction moratoriums. The newly surging Delta COVID-19 variant, low vaccination rates in communities with high eviction filings, and the slow rate of distributing ERA make the necessity of extensions abundantly clear. Any eviction moratorium should protect renters until vaccination rates increase in communities most at risk of eviction. Eviction moratoriums will also provide state and local governments more time to ramp up their efforts to distribute emergency rental assistance to households in need;
- Quickly distributing emergency rental assistance. At the end of June, $3 billion of the $46 billion in emergency rental assistance provided by Congress had been spent. While some states and localities have made significant progress in distributing aid, most communities need to do more, better, and faster. State and local governments must work to ensure their ERA programs are visible, accessible, and preventive of evictions.
- Enacting additional renter protections. Other measures, such as right to counsel, expungement of eviction records, and just-cause eviction standards, can help protect renters now and in the long term.
Immediate ERA Program Administrator Action
With the possibility of state and local courts processing and hearing a greater number of eviction cases, it is crucial that attorneys, judges, justice of the peace and court staff are active partners in connecting landlords and tenants to the assistance they need. To improve access to ERA through state and local courts, ERA program administrators should immediately:
- Increase communication efforts in courts. States and local courts must act to ensure both tenants and landlords know about and have access to ERA. Courts should modify their summons information to include information on ERA and be sure to include ERA information on court websites.
- Implement data-sharing between courts and ERA programs. Courts should develop a process to identify and stop the eviction process for cases where landlords who have applied for emergency rental assistance have been made whole but have not yet revoked the filing.
- Be present in court. Emergency rental assistance programs should have a presence in eviction courts to provide information for both tenants and landlords who may not know about ERA.
- Fast track applications. Emergency rental assistance programs should fast-track applications for tenants currently in the queue due to non-payment of rent as well as those filed with court navigators.
- Increase staffing. ERA programs should hire additional staff to increase efficiency, support applications for successful completion, and decrease processing times.
Join our national call today (August 2) to hear more about immediate actions you can take to keep renters safely and stably housed. Thank you all for your advocacy and dedication.