Just hours before the nationwide eviction ban is set to expire, potentially leading to millions of families losing their homes as the delta variant of Covid-19 surges, leading House Democrats are calling for the extension of the moratorium through the end of the year.
On Thursday, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., introduced legislation that would extend the moratorium through December 2021. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also called on Congress to act immediately, calling extending the ban a "moral imperative."
Pelosi pointed out that just $3 billion of the over $46 billion Congress has allocated to rental relief via coronavirus stimulus bills has been disbursed. She said in a statement that the eviction moratorium should be in effect until states can get the money to people who need it the most.
"We in Congress have the opportunity — and the responsibility — to respect the dignity of those who have suffered so much in terms of their health, financial security and well-being," Pelosi said.
An eviction ban was put in place by Congress at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 to protect households that lost income. In September 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put a nationwide ban into effect when Congress did not act. But that ban has been the subject of numerous lawsuits, and in June 2021, the Supreme Court ruled that only Congress could enact such a policy.
Some states have imposed their own eviction moratoria, but an extension of the nationwide ban would protect households in states that have not.
Over 11 million adult renters are still behind on their rental payments, putting them at risk of losing their homes. And recent research from UCLA found that Covid cases and, subsequently, deaths "increased dramatically" after eviction bans ended in some states.
It is not clear if the the House will take up Waters' bill, or what the Senate will do.
"Extending the moratorium until the end of the year is the right thing to do to prevent increases in homelessness and the spread of the coronavirus," said Waters, who is chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee.
She, too, called on states to work to distribute the tens of billions of dollars in emergency rental assistance that Congress has appropriated.
"Our efforts to provide emergency rental assistance will prove meaningless if families are evicted before receiving relief," she said.
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