Evictions loom after Biden and Congress fail to extend ban

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Associated Press 30 July, 2021 - 11:11pm 30 views

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House fails to extend eviction moratorium ahead of 6-week recess

ABC News 31 July, 2021 - 01:13am

The measure was rejected by Republicans.

House Democrats' attempt to pass an extension of the eviction moratorium via unanimous consent request failed late Friday ahead of a six-week recess. The moratorium will end Saturday.

The measure was objected to by Republicans, none of whom supported the bid.

"We are proud and pleased that, overwhelmingly, House Democrats have understood the hardship caused by rental evictions and support extending the eviction moratorium to October 18, 2021," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Whip James E. Clyburn said in a joint statement after the failed bid. "Unfortunately, not a single Republican would support this measure."

The eleventh-hour attempt to pass an extension came after hours of delay as leaders tried to scramble support for the extension.

In a letter to colleagues earlier Friday, Pelosi said the October date would align with the public health emergency declaration that was issued by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Previously, Democrats had floated extending the moratorium through the end of the year, but some moderates had complained that the timeframe was too long.

"Congress has the power to direct the CDC to extend the eviction moratorium, as we encourage state and local governments to distribute the money that we allocated," Pelosi wrote.

Pelosi also called on states and localities to distribute the Congress-approved rental assistance, of which there is more than $40 billion remaining in the pot.

Progressives lashed out at the White House and party leaders for their failed last-minute scramble to extend the eviction moratorium.

"Everybody knew this was happening. We were sounding the alarm about this issue," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, D-N.Y., told reporters in a gaggle outside Pelosi's office. She was joined by Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., who has been outspoken about the time she spent homeless in pushing for the extension of the moratorium.

"The court order was not yesterday, the court order was not Monday, the court order was a month ago," Ocasio Cortez continued. "We had a financial services hearing about it, members were bringing alarms to the administration about it."

"The fact that the [White House] statement came out just yesterday is unacceptable. It is unacceptable," she said. "I want to make that very clear, because the excuses that we've been hearing about it, I do not accept them."

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Thursday, "Given the recent spread of the Delta variant, including among those Americans both most likely to face evictions and lacking vaccinations, President Biden would have strongly supported a decision by the CDC to further extend this eviction moratorium to protect renters at this moment of heightened vulnerability."

Pelosi told reporters Friday following the defeat that the extension of the eviction moratorium failed in part due to the last-minute notice from the White House about the need for Congress to fix the issue with legislation.

Hoyer added, "There were obviously some concerns about landlords getting payments, as well as the renters."

Hoyer said an "overwhelming number" of Democrats wanted to pass the extension, but some had concerns about getting payments to landlords who have not been able to enforce rent collections.

"This is really so unfair" to the landlords, housing providers, as well as renters, Pelosi added.

Pelosi warned that further legislative action is possible in August.

On Friday night, after the House gaveled out of session, Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., who previously struggled with homelessness, announced that she is taking a stand against the rejection of the extension by sleeping outside the Capitol all night.

"Many of my Democratic colleagues chose to go on vacation early today rather than staying to vote to keep people in their homes. I'll be sleeping outside the Capitol tonight. We've still got work to do," Bush tweeted, with a photo of herself outside the building.

She also shared on Twitter a letter she sent to her colleagues, stressing the urgency of extending the eviction moratorium.

"Many of them failed to meet this moment," she wrote, attaching the letter. "I'm inviting them now to join me in sleeping outside the Capitol in a push to extend the moratorium. It's not too late."

Approximately two dozen people gathered outside the Capitol with Bush Friday night, and at 1 a.m. on Saturday, Bush tweeted that the number of supporters was growing.

"Millions are at risk of being removed from their homes, and a Democratic-controlled government has the power to stop it. Extend the eviction moratorium now," she wrote, along with a photo of herself, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.

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Evictions loom after Biden and Congress fail to extend ban

The Washington Post 30 July, 2021 - 11:03pm

More than 3.6 million Americans are at risk of eviction, some in a matter of days, as nearly $47 billion in federal housing aid to the states during the pandemic has been slow to make it into the hands of renters and landlords owed payments. The moratorium expires at midnight.

Tensions mounted late Friday as it became clear there was no resolution in sight. Hours before the ban was set to expire, Biden called on local governments to “take all possible steps” to immediately disburse the funds. Evictions could begin as soon as Monday.

“There can be no excuse for any state or locality not accelerating funds to landlords and tenants that have been hurt during this pandemic,” Biden said in a statement.

“Every state and local government must get these funds out to ensure we prevent every eviction we can,” he said.

The stunning outcome, as the White House and Congress each expected the other to act, exposed a rare divide between the president and his allies on Capitol Hill — one that could have lasting impact as the nation’s renters face widespread evictions.

Biden set off the scramble by announcing he would allow the eviction ban to expire instead of challenging a recent Supreme Court ruling signaling this would be the last deadline. He called on Congress on Thursday to swiftly pass legislation to extend the date.

Racing to respond Friday, Democrats strained to rally the votes. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi implored colleagues to pass legislation extending the deadline, calling it a “moral imperative,” to protect renters and also the landlords who are owed compensation.

Congress must “meet the needs of the American people: both the families unable to make rent and those to whom the rent is to be paid,” she said in an overnight letter late Thursday.

But after hours of behind-the-scenes wrangling throughout the day, Democratic lawmakers had questions and could not muster support to extend the ban even a few months. House Republicans objected to an attempt to simply approve an extension by consent, without a formal vote. The Senate may try again Saturday.

Democratic lawmakers were livid at the prospect of evictions in the middle of a surging pandemic.

“Housing is a primary social indicator of health, in and of itself, even absent COVID,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. “A mass eviction in the United States does represent a public health crisis unto itself.”

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., the Financial Services Committee chair who wrote the emergency bill, said House leaders should have held the vote, even if it failed, to show Americans they were trying to solve the problem.

“Is it emergency enough that you’re going to stop families from being put on the street?” Waters testified at a hearing Friday morning urging her colleagues to act. “What the hell is going to happen to these children?”

But Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, the top Republican on another panel handling the issue, said the Democrats’ bill was rushed.

“This is not the way to legislate,” she said.

The ban was initially put in place to prevent further spread of COVID-19 by people put out on the streets and into shelters.

Congress pushed nearly $47 billion to the states earlier in the COVID-19 crisis to shore up landlords and renters as workplaces shut down and many people were suddenly out of work.

But lawmakers said state governments have been slow to distribute the money. On Friday, they said only some $3 billion has been spent.

By the end of March, 6.4 million American households were behind on their rent, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. As of July 5, roughly 3.6 million people in the U.S. said they faced eviction in the next two months, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.

Some places are likely to see spikes in evictions starting Monday, while other jurisdictions will see an increase in court filings that will lead to evictions over several months.

At the White House, deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the administration backs the congressional effort “to extend the eviction moratorium to protect these vulnerable renters and their families.”

The White House has been clear that Biden would have liked to extend the federal eviction moratorium because of the spread of the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus. But there were also concerns that challenging the court could lead to a ruling restricting the administration’s ability to respond to future public health crises.

The administration is trying to keep renters in place through other means. It released more than $1.5 billion in rental assistance in June, which helped nearly 300,000 households. Biden on Thursday asked the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture and Veterans Affairs to extend their eviction moratoriums on households living in federally insured, single-family homes. In a statement late Friday, the agencies announced an extension of the foreclosure-related ban through the end of September.

Aides to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, the chair of the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, said the two were working on legislation to extend the moratorium and were asking Republicans not to block it.

“The public health necessity of extended protections for renters is obvious,” said Diane Yentel, executive director of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “If federal court cases made a broad extension impossible, the Biden administration should implement all possible alternatives, including a more limited moratorium on federally backed properties.”

Landlords, who have opposed the moratorium and challenged it repeatedly in court, are against any extension. They, too, are arguing for speeding up the distribution of rental assistance.

The National Apartment Association and several others this week filed a federal lawsuit asking for $26 billion in damages because of the impact of the moratorium.

“Any extension of the eviction moratorium equates to an unfunded government mandate that forces housing providers to deliver a costly service without compensation and saddles renters with insurmountable debt,” association president and CEO Bob Pinnegar said, adding that the current crisis highlights a need for more affordable housing.

Casey reported from Boston. Associated Press writers Alexandra Jaffe, Mark Sherman and Kevin Freking in Washington contributed to this report.

This story has been corrected to say that the eviction moratorium expires at midnight Saturday, not that it has expired.

Evictions loom after Biden and Congress fail to extend ban

USA TODAY 30 July, 2021 - 11:03pm

More than 3.6 million Americans are at risk of eviction, some in a matter of days, as nearly $47 billion in federal housing aid to the states during the pandemic has been slow to make it into the hands of renters and landlords owed payments. The moratorium expires at midnight.

Tensions mounted late Friday as it became clear there was no resolution in sight. Hours before the ban was set to expire, Biden called on local governments to “take all possible steps” to immediately disburse the funds. Evictions could begin as soon as Monday.

“There can be no excuse for any state or locality not accelerating funds to landlords and tenants that have been hurt during this pandemic,” Biden said in a statement.

“Every state and local government must get these funds out to ensure we prevent every eviction we can,” he said.

The stunning outcome, as the White House and Congress each expected the other to act, exposed a rare divide between the president and his allies on Capitol Hill — one that could have lasting impact as the nation’s renters face widespread evictions.

Biden set off the scramble by announcing he would allow the eviction ban to expire instead of challenging a recent Supreme Court ruling signaling this would be the last deadline. He called on Congress on Thursday to swiftly pass legislation to extend the date.

Racing to respond Friday, Democrats strained to rally the votes. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi implored colleagues to pass legislation extending the deadline, calling it a “moral imperative,” to protect renters and also the landlords who are owed compensation.

Congress must “meet the needs of the American people: both the families unable to make rent and those to whom the rent is to be paid,” she said in an overnight letter late Thursday.

But after hours of behind-the-scenes wrangling throughout the day, Democratic lawmakers had questions and could not muster support to extend the ban even a few months. House Republicans objected to an attempt to simply approve an extension by consent, without a formal vote. The Senate may try again Saturday.

Democratic lawmakers were livid at the prospect of evictions in the middle of a surging pandemic.

“Housing is a primary social indicator of health, in and of itself, even absent COVID,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. “A mass eviction in the United States does represent a public health crisis unto itself.”

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., the Financial Services Committee chair who wrote the emergency bill, said House leaders should have held the vote, even if it failed, to show Americans they were trying to solve the problem.

“Is it emergency enough that you’re going to stop families from being put on the street?” Waters testified at a hearing Friday morning urging her colleagues to act. “What the hell is going to happen to these children?”

But Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, the top Republican on another panel handling the issue, said the Democrats’ bill was rushed.

“This is not the way to legislate,” she said.

The ban was initially put in place to prevent further spread of COVID-19 by people put out on the streets and into shelters.

Congress pushed nearly $47 billion to the states earlier in the COVID-19 crisis to shore up landlords and renters as workplaces shut down and many people were suddenly out of work.

But lawmakers said state governments have been slow to distribute the money. On Friday, they said only some $3 billion has been spent.

By the end of March, 6.4 million American households were behind on their rent, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. As of July 5, roughly 3.6 million people in the U.S. said they faced eviction in the next two months, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.

Some places are likely to see spikes in evictions starting Monday, while other jurisdictions will see an increase in court filings that will lead to evictions over several months.

At the White House, deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the administration backs the congressional effort “to extend the eviction moratorium to protect these vulnerable renters and their families.”

The White House has been clear that Biden would have liked to extend the federal eviction moratorium because of the spread of the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus. But there were also concerns that challenging the court could lead to a ruling restricting the administration’s ability to respond to future public health crises.

The administration is trying to keep renters in place through other means. It released more than $1.5 billion in rental assistance in June, which helped nearly 300,000 households. Biden on Thursday asked the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture and Veterans Affairs to extend their eviction moratoriums on households living in federally insured, single-family homes. In a statement late Friday, the agencies announced an extension of the foreclosure-related ban through the end of September.

Aides to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, the chair of the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, said the two were working on legislation to extend the moratorium and were asking Republicans not to block it.

“The public health necessity of extended protections for renters is obvious,” said Diane Yentel, executive director of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “If federal court cases made a broad extension impossible, the Biden administration should implement all possible alternatives, including a more limited moratorium on federally backed properties.”

Landlords, who have opposed the moratorium and challenged it repeatedly in court, are against any extension. They, too, are arguing for speeding up the distribution of rental assistance.

The National Apartment Association and several others this week filed a federal lawsuit asking for $26 billion in damages because of the impact of the moratorium.

“Any extension of the eviction moratorium equates to an unfunded government mandate that forces housing providers to deliver a costly service without compensation and saddles renters with insurmountable debt,” association president and CEO Bob Pinnegar said, adding that the current crisis highlights a need for more affordable housing.

Casey reported from Boston. Associated Press writers Alexandra Jaffe, Mark Sherman and Kevin Freking in Washington contributed to this report.

This story has been corrected to say that the eviction moratorium expires at midnight Saturday, not that it has expired.

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