The US Department of Justice argues that evictions risk spreading COVID-19, as the federal ban on most evictions remains in place for now.
Federal judge temporarily suspended order establishing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) exceeded his authority when he imposed a federal moratorium on evictions to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The suspension, handed down Wednesday night by a federal judge in Washington, DC, came after the Justice Department filed an emergency appeal in the case. The administrative suspension means there will be no immediate effect on the ban, which was extended in March until the end of June.
“Scientific evidence shows that evictions worsen the spread of COVID-19, which has already killed more than half a million Americans, and that the harm to the public that would result from uncontrolled evictions cannot be reversed,” Brian Boynton, acting assistant attorney general, said in a statement.
U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich in Washington, DC, said the suspension was not based on the Justice Department’s argument, but rather was intended to give the court time to ” review the request and any potential objections.
Opponents of the moratorium, including the National Association of Estate Agents, welcomed the judge’s initial ruling and said the solution was housing assistance, not a ban on evictions.
The eviction ban, initially put in place last year, offers protection to tenants, fearing that families will lose their homes and move into shelters or share crowded conditions with relatives or friends for a while. the pandemic would no longer spread the highly contagious virus.
Supporters of the ban argue it is necessary because the pandemic is still a threat and so people are at risk of deportation or foreclosure. Nearly four million people in the United States said they faced eviction or foreclosure in the next two months, according to the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.
National data on eviction procedures has been inconsistent according to researchers at Princeton University’s Eviction Lab, but a recent study suggested that more than 1.5 million evictions were prevented in 2020 by police officers. government bans.
Moratoriums on evictions prevented 1.55 million evictions in 2020, a finding published in @SociusJournal today.
This begs the question: why can’t we prevent not only 1.55 million, but all the evictions that occur every year? pic.twitter.com/hhjVoyBzAq
– emily honda lemmerman (@e_lemmerman) April 28, 2021
Judge Friedrich said on Wednesday that the “plain language” of a federal law called the Public Health Service Act, which governs the response to the spread of communicable diseases such as COVID-19, blocked the CDC’s moratorium.
The National Association of Realtors welcomed the judge’s ruling, saying a better solution would be to help tenants pay rent, taxes and utility bills.
“With housing assistance assured, the economy strengthening and unemployment rates falling, there is no need to maintain a blanket eviction ban nationwide,” the group said.
As part of a $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill Passed earlier this year, the U.S. Congress provided $ 30 billion in rental and housing assistance for people at risk of eviction or losing their homes.
Friedrich’s initial decision, when it takes effect, would provide relief to homeowners struggling with overdue tenants and vacations. The moratorium was due to expire on June 30.
The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Reuters news service.
At least 43 states and Washington, DC, have imposed their own temporary stops on residential or business evictions during the COVID-19 crisis, though protections are far from uniform.
A separate eviction and foreclosure moratorium for housing federally funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development expires June 30.
The CDC’s moratorium was issued last September, under the administration of former President Donald Trump, and has been extended three times, the most recent in March under the administration of President Joe Biden.