The CDC Took an Important Step to Halt Evictions Because of COVID-19. But That’s Only Half the Battle

September 3, 2020

Evictions have been stalled for months as many cities, states, and courts have adopted moratoriums on evictions related to job loss and other economic challenges caused by the COVD-19 pandemic. But when these moratoriums expired, eviction filings started flooding in, and many courts have started processing them. When rent became due on September 1, millions of families were on the brink of eviction and were worried about losing their homes in the middle of a pandemic and facing a greater risk of exposure to COVID-19. Some estimates predicted between 30 million and 40 million people could face eviction in the next several months. 

That’s when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stepped in.

Referencing its broad authority to stop the spread of disease, the CDC took unprecedented action on Wednesday and issued a national moratorium on evictions (PDF). The moratorium applies to nonpayment of rent (tenants can be evicted for other lease violations), and the CDC order does not forgive rent or prohibit landlords from charging late fees. Unlike the CARES Act, which expired in July, the moratorium protects all 43 million renter households nationwide and stays in effect through December 31, 2020.  

But an eviction moratorium goes only so far. It offers a temporary reprieve from eviction, but rent payments will still pile up and be due down the line. That’s why large-scale federal rental assistance is critical to keep renters in their homes in the long term.

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