Biden administration rolls out 60-day targeted eviction ban aimed at protecting millions of renters from losing their homes

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden. Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images
  • The Biden administration announced a limited eviction ban after coming under pressure from progressives.
  • It would stretch for 60 days and expire on October 3.
  • The CDC order won’t take effect in counties with major drops in infection levels.
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The Biden administration announced a targeted eviction ban after facing immense pressure from progressive lawmakers in recent days to act unilaterally.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced the policy on Tuesday evening. The public-health agency initially imposed an eviction moratorium under President Donald Trump last year.

‘The emergence of the delta variant has led to a rapid acceleration of community transmission in the United States, putting more Americans at increased risk, especially if they are unvaccinated, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. “This moratorium is the right thing to do to keep people in their homes and out of congregate settings where COVID-19 spreads.”

It’s aimed at shielding 90% of all renters from evictions and it’s focused on areas with high levels of infections stemming from the Delta variant. But it won’t cover counties where virus infections drop to controllable levels and it will end on Oct. 3.

It caps a remarkable rupture between the White House and progressives who demanded they act to block evictions nationwide. A federal eviction ban expired on Saturday, threatening over 6 million renters with the loss of their homes.

That prompted Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri waged a five-day sit-in at the steps of the Capitol since Friday, and she was joined by other Democrats like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “Our work isn’t done.. we will continue to fight,” she said at a Tuesday news conference. “Activists are in Congress, so expect for things to be different from maybe what people are used to.”

Still, Biden suggested at a Tuesday news conference that the plan may not work because of a Supreme Court ruling last month. An opinion from Justice Brett Kavanaugh – who joined the majority in a 5-4 decision – said any new extension needed to come from Congress.

“Any call for a moratorium based on the Supreme Court’s recent decision is likely to face obstacles,” Biden said at a news conference. He added any legal battle would buy time for renters to tap into an emergency relief program from recent stimulus laws directed at extinguishing rental debt.

“By the time it gets litigated, it will probably give additional time while we’re getting that $US45 ($AU61) billion out to people behind on rent,” he said.

The administration abruptly changed course after several days of saying it couldn’t take legal steps to renew the moratorium.

The White House advisor Gene Sperling said on Monday the “president has not only kicked the tires; he has double-, triple-, quadruple-checked,” adding that the CDC had been “unable to find the legal authority” for even a targeted ban concentrated on areas with high infection rates.

Some progressive lawmakers were frustrated with Biden undercutting his latest measure. “It is odd, I think, to raise issues about the constitutionality of your own executive action shortly before making that executive action,” Rep. Mondaire Jones told reporters on Tuesday.