May 6th 2021
Yesterday, a Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge struck down the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s federal eviction moratorium on the grounds that the CDC exceeded its authority under the Public Health Service Act.
Across the country, trade groups like the Alabama Realtors Association who filed this lawsuit have been working to roll back local, state, and in this case, the federal eviction moratorium. Their ruthless pursuit of profits in the middle of a historic pandemic puts all of us at risk. The public health implications of mass-evicting families due to transmission of the coronavirus are crystal clear — but they are far from the only risks. With mass evictions will come widespread societal harm: a steep uptick in houselessness, and dramatic increases in emergency room visits and mental health crises, as just a couple stark examples of the consequences of not getting this right. The conservative estimated economic cost of nationwide mass evictions on the low end is $162.8 billion. We can’t afford the human or economic cost of this impending disaster.
Thankfully, the Biden administration publicly warned corporate landlords to not violate the moratorium, appealed the ruling, and an emergency stay of the order has been issued through Wednesday, May 12th — the federal eviction moratorium is still in effect for now. But this ruling illustrates how the patchwork of moratoriums across the country — and the vastly different interpretations of this moratorium in terms of enforcement by local judges — are not going to solve our profound housing crisis. With nearly 6.9 million people behind on rent and more than 6 million homeowners behind on mortgage payments, we can’t afford to kick this can down the road any longer.
The Biden administration needs to backup their words by strengthening the moratorium and enacting bold legislative actions that go much further than this temporary fix. Congress must also step up to the plate and finally deliver to renters and homeowners real solutions for this housing crisis like Representative Omar’s bill, the Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act. If we don’t move towards cancellation of rent and utility debt, cancellation of rent for the duration of the pandemic and a recovery period after, and federal housing buy back programs to ensure that the mistakes of the 2008 housing crisis are not repeated, millions of families will be sacrificed for the benefit of a wealthy few.
Right To The City Alliance (RTTC), a nationwide network of more than 90 housing justice organizations is clear on what this moment demands of our elected leaders: bold legislation that ensures everyone is able to have a roof over our heads in the midst of, and in the aftermath of, this historic pandemic.