New eviction moratorium that would last until October 3 is expected to protect areas heavily impacted by coronavirus, where about 90 percent of US population lives.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a new moratorium on evictions that would last until October 3, as the Biden administration sought to quell intensifying criticism that it was allowing vulnerable renters to lose their homes during a pandemic.
The new moratorium issued on Tuesday could help keep millions in their homes as the Delta variant has spread and states have been slow to release federal rental aid.
It would temporarily halt evictions in counties with "substantial and high levels: of virus transmissions and would cover areas where 90 percent of the US population lives.
The announcement was something of a reversal for the Biden administration after saying that a Supreme Court ruling prevented a moratorium.
But the choice to impose a new measure in the face of legal uncertainty was also a win for the progressive lawmakers who pushed the White House to do more to prevent some 3.6 million Americans from losing their homes during the Covid-19 crisis.
'Our movement moved mountains'
President Joe Biden stopped short on Tuesday afternoon of announcing the new ban on evictions during a press conference at the White House, ceding the responsibility to the CDC.
"My hope is it's going to be a new moratorium," Biden told reporters.
The extension could help heal a rift with liberal Democratic lawmakers who were calling on the president to take executive action to keep renters in their homes as the Delta variant of the coronavirus spread and a prior moratorium lapsed over the weekend.
"For 5 days, we’ve been out here, demanding that our government acts to save lives," tweeted US Representative Cori Bush of Missouri, who led the protest outside the US Capitol since the moratorium expired.
"Today, our movement moved mountains."
On Friday night, I came to the Capitol with my chair. I refused to accept that Congress could leave for vacation while 11 million people faced eviction.— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) August 3, 2021
For 5 days, we’ve been out here, demanding that our government acts to save lives.
Today, our movement moved mountains.
Relief for renters
Administration officials had previously said a Supreme Court ruling stopped them from setting up a new moratorium without congressional backing, saying states and cities must be more aggressive in releasing nearly $47 billion in relief for renters on the verge of eviction.
The new policy came amid a scramble of actions by the Biden team to reassure Democrats and the country that it could find a way to halt potential evictions.
Progressive lawmakers , who camped for days outside the Capitol with dozens of supporters to pressure Biden to act, saw the administration's move as a vindication of their efforts.
If you're in an area with substantial or high spread of #COVID19, wear a mask in public indoor settings, even if fully vaccinated. If you're fully vaccinated & in a low spread area, you can still consider wearing a mask.— CDC (@CDCgov) August 3, 2021
See COVID-19 spread in your area: https://t.co/iSLwhCwlZ2. pic.twitter.com/NV4MO5ox9e
$47 billion federal housing aid
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen briefed House Democrats on Tuesday on the administration's efforts to prevent widespread evictions after the moratorium lapsed.
Yellen told Democrats on a private call about the work under way to ensure some $47 billion in federal housing aid makes it to renters and landlords.
She provided data so that lawmakers could see how their districts and states are performing with distributing the relief, according to a person on the call.
The White House has said state and local governments have been slow to push out that federal money and is pressing them to do so swiftly.
The treasury secretary tried to encourage Democrats to work together, even as lawmakers have said Biden should act on his own to extend the eviction moratorium, according to someone on the private call who insisted on anonymity to discuss its contents.
Yellen said on the call, according to this person, that she agrees "we need to bring every resource to bear” and that she appreciated the Democrats' efforts and wants "to leave no stone unturned.”