Supreme Court ended the federal CDC eviction moratorium
On Thursday, August 26, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court ended President Biden’s new federal eviction moratorium. In an eight-page opinion, the Court explained that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) exceeded its authority in imposing a nationwide moratorium because it can only take certain limited measures (like fumigation or pest extermination) to curb the spread of communicable diseases.
According to the Court, the Biden administration’s CDC was not authorized to impose another moratorium after it expired at the end of July without congressional action. With emergency rental assistance funds and vaccinations readily available, the Court reasoned that preventing eviction of tenants who break their leases permanently deprives landlords of rent payments. The Court held that it is ultimately up to Congress whether to impose a moratorium on evictions.
The Court’s decision to invalidate the CDC moratorium puts millions of struggling households at risk of losing their homes and experiencing homelessness at a time when COVID-19 cases are on the rise. Without the opportunity for the Supreme Court justices to further hear arguments in this case, the decision largely ignores the great public interest in combatting the spread of the Delta variant and the fact that the moratorium only delays, not deprives, landlords of their rental income. If anything, keeping the moratorium in place would allow more time for states and localities to distribute rent relief funds to landlords.
More housing instability, evictions, homelessness, and COVID-19 infections are expected for those who are unable to pay rent and benefit from the moratorium, but are now left without similar state or local renter protections while still waiting to receive rental assistance. Studies show that evictions are likely to increase COVID-19 cases because losing one’s home results in overcrowded living conditions and more difficulty to follow rules designed to limit the spread of COVID-19 (like social distancing or staying at home to quarantine).
Our work these next few weeks to secure funding and investments for long-term rental assistance through Housing Choice Vouchers would be critical to ensuring that Congress provide a long-term solution to the housing crisis and help struggling renter households afford their homes in the long run.