President Donald Trump (Getty, iStock)
The Trump administration today announced comprehensive evacuation protection in the face of the health crisis.
The Public Health Ordinance, the draft of which the Centers for Disease Control published on Tuesday afternoon, will suspend evictions for qualified tenants from September 4th until the end of the year. To be eligible, renters must provide their landlord with a form stating that they are unable to pay rent, have received the available assistance and are earning less than $ 99,000 per year, or a federal coronavirus relief check earlier this year have received.
Landlords can still evacuate tenants for reasons other than non-payment of the rent, and the moratorium does not constitute a cancellation of the rent, the order states. A White House spokesman told reporters that federal funding has been made available to the landlords affected. However, no details have been given and it is not clear what recourse landlords will have if tenants stop paying rent.
A CDC memo explaining the measure said that by halting evictions, local governments "can more easily implement home-stay policies and social distancing to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the community".
The agency also found that "residential stability helps protect public health" as homelessness increases the likelihood of people moving to shelters where they are at higher risk of developing the disease.
On Tuesday before the announcement, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the move would affect nearly 40 million of the approximately 43 million rental households in the United States.
The move comes almost a month after President Donald Trump instructed authorities to "consider" banning Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac-backed properties after a moratorium on properties with government-backed mortgages expired. Last week this protection was extended to the end of the year.
Unemployed people have not received improved federal benefits since it phased out in late July, and Congress has not yet reached an agreement on another bailout package.
Groups representing landlords criticized eviction moratoria for failing to address the problem of tenants unable to pay rent, saying this latest measure was more or less the same.
"Eviction moratoriums don't really solve anything, so it's not surprising that this government would pursue a moratorium as a cynical political ploy ahead of the elections," said Jay Martin, executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program, a New York City rental group.
Doug Bibby, president of the National Multifamily Housing Council, a trade association that represents landlords, said in a statement that he was "disappointed" with the move and that he hoped Congress would come to an agreement to alleviate financial pressures on property owners.
"An eviction moratorium will ultimately harm the very people it is supposed to help by making it impossible for housing providers, especially small owners, to meet their financial obligations and continue to offer protection to their residents," Bibby said.