The Supreme Court, in an unsigned opinion, ruled (6-3) on August 26 to end the temporary stay on a lower court ruling seeking to overturn the federal eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on August 3. In doing so, the Supreme Court’s ruling invalidates the federal eviction moratorium, eliminating vital eviction protections that have kept millions of households stably housed. The Supreme Court decision undermines historic efforts by Congress and the White House to ensure housing stability during the pandemic. State and local governments are working to improve programs to distribute emergency rental assistance (ERA) to those in need, but they need more time; the Supreme Court’s decision will lead to many renters, predominantly people of color, losing their homes before the assistance can reach them.
The case to overturn the eviction moratorium was brought to the Supreme Court by the Alabama and Georgia Associations of Realtors, backed by the National Association of Realtors. Hours after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected the Realtors’ emergency motion to halt the Biden administration’s new eviction moratorium, the Realtors filed an emergency petition with the Supreme Court on August 20 (Memo, 8/23). The Department of Justice submitted to the Supreme Court its opposition to the Realtors’ case on August 23, making clear that the new moratorium was needed because the trajectory of the pandemic has changed “unexpectedly, dramatically, and for the worse” from when the Supreme Court last ruled on the moratorium in June. The Realtors’ and the Supreme Court’s actions to overturn the eviction moratorium comes as the delta variant of COVID-19 overwhelms pediatric and other hospitals in Alabama, Georgia, and throughout the country. Both Alabama and Georgia have spent less than 3% of their emergency rental assistance (ERA) funds, and many other states and cities continue to struggle to get ERA to the tenants who need it to stay stably housed.
A White House statement on the ruling made clear that the Supreme Court’s decision means “families will face the painful impact of evictions, and communities across the country will face greater risk of exposure to COVID-19.” The statement reiterated the Biden administration’s call for all entities – from federal agencies to states and cities to local courts – to take immediate action to prevent evictions.
“The federal eviction moratorium was a lifeline for millions of families, the last remaining federal protection keeping many safely and stably housed during the pandemic. The tragic, consequential, and entirely avoidable outcome of this ruling could be millions of people losing their homes this fall and winter, just as the delta variant ravages communities and lives,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel.
Our collective work to keep renters stably and safely housed is more important and urgent than ever. NLIHC is calling on the federal government, state and local governments, and ERA program administrators to take immediate action to protect renters. Join our national call today at 2:30 pm ET to hear more about immediate actions you can take to keep renters safely and stably housed.