The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has extended the nationwide eviction moratorium through at least the end of March.
“As a protective public health measure, I will extend the current order temporarily halting residential evictions until at least March 31,” said Rochelle P. Walensky, the new CDC director. “The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a historic threat to our nation’s health. It has also triggered a housing affordability crisis that disproportionately affects some communities.”
The Biden administration has released a national strategy for beating the COVID-19 pandemic. The $1.9 trillion relief plan would provide more money for vaccines and testing, direct relief to Americans, and state and local aid for businesses.
The proposals in the American Rescue Plan, the first of two COVID-19 relief bills expected, includes several key actions impacting the affordable and multifamily housing industries:
- Eviction moratorium extension through Sept. 30;
- An additional $25 billion in rental assistance;
- $1,400 stimulus checks;
- Extended weekly federal unemployment benefits;
- $5 billion in emergency assistance people experiencing or at risk of homelessness;
- $5 billion for utility costs and arrears through programs like the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program; and
- Boosting the federal minimum wage to $15.
“As industry leaders have expressed, the first $25 billion was a significant down payment toward the rental crisis, but research has proven an additional $25 billion is certainly needed. President Biden’s plan, coupled with the U.S. Department of Treasury’s efforts to expeditiously provide funds to states and localities, represents monumental steps in the right direction,” said National Housing Conference president and CEO David Dworkin. “In addition to extended unemployment benefits to provide economic stability to individuals and families, this plan would save millions of renters from eviction and provide much-needed support for mom-and-pop landlords who have gone nearly a year without rental payments.”
The National Multifamily Housing Council and the National Apartment Association issued a joint statement applauding President Biden’s prompt action to address the pandemic and aid struggling renters, but still raise concerns regarding the effectiveness of eviction moratoriums.
“We remain heartened by President Biden’s recently announced relief proposal, the American Rescue Plan, which includes additional unemployment benefits, increased stimulus checks and an additional $25 billion in rental assistance. These measures will continue to support those households and apartment owners and operators who are unable, through no fault of their own, to meet their financial obligations,” the statement said. “We are deeply concerned that the president’s rescue package includes a nine-month eviction moratorium in addition to the CDC order extension enacted [Jan. 20]. Such policies have been in place for nearly a year while targeted, direct rental assistance took nine months to pass Congress.”
According to the NMHC and NAA, allocated rental assistance funds do not fully address the $70 billion in outstanding debt nor accruing debt moving forward.
“The industry simply cannot continue operation under these policies without disastrous harm to housing affordability,” according to the joint statement. “We look forward to working together with the Biden administration and Congress to provide the additional financial support needed to help close the growing gap of tens of billions in rental debt that accumulated in 2020. Additional financial support is urgently needed to prevent displacement, stabilize millions of Americans who continue to struggle under the weight of COVID-19 financial impacts, and ensure rental housing providers can continue operations and keep their residents stably housed.”