A nationwide eviction moratorium expired on July 31, 2021. Democratic lawmakers were dismayed by the prospect of evictions as coronavirus case numbers surge.
Democrats strained to draft a bill and rally the votes needed to extend the ban. Despite behind-the-scenes wrangling on Friday, lawmakers had questions and concerns. They could not muster enough support.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put the moratorium in place in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The eviction ban was meant to prevent further virus spread by people put out on the streets and into shelters when they could not pay rents or mortgages.
More than 3.6 million Americans are at risk of eviction. Some places may see spikes in evictions starting this week. Other jurisdictions will see an increase in court filings that will lead to evictions over several months. Believers have an opportunity to serve those who are evicted. 1 John 3:17 says, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”
President Joe Biden announced last Thursday he would allow the eviction ban to expire instead of challenging a recent Supreme Court ruling.
On a 5-4 vote in late June, the Supreme Court allowed the eviction ban to continue through the end of July. President Biden would have liked to extend the moratorium because of the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus delta variant. But Justice Brett Kavanaugh said he would block any additional extensions unless there was “clear and specific congressional authorization.”
The administration is trying to help renters in other ways. Congress approved nearly $47 billion in federal housing aid to the states during the pandemic. But the money has been slow to make it into the hands of renters and the landlords who are owed payments.
Congress released more than $1.5 billion in rental assistance in June. That helped nearly 300,000 households.
Landlords opposed the ban—and the extension of it. It prevents them from removing tenants even after months of missed rent payments. They also want the distribution of rental assistance to speed up.
The National Apartment Association and several others this week filed a federal lawsuit. They asked for $26 billion in damages due to the moratorium. (Read Landlords in a Pinch for more on how landlords are hurting.)
One Democratic lawmaker camped outside the Capitol in protest. Missouri Representative Cori Bush experienced homelessness as a young mother working in a low-wage job.
“I don’t want anyone else to have to go through what I went through, ever,” says Bush. “I’m going to fight now that I’m in a position to be able to do something about it.”
(Representatives Frank Pallone of New Jersey, left, and Maxine Waters of California prepare an emergency extension of the eviction moratorium in Washington, D.C., on July 30, 2021. AP/J. Scott Applewhite)