The Trump administration’s new eviction ban faces a number of legal and political challenges that could undermine an ambitious and unorthodox attempt to save tens of millions of Americans from homelessness.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order on Tuesday banning landlords from evicting tenants who could no longer afford rent by the end of 2020 due to expenses or difficulties related to pandemics to pay. This order was issued along with the previously issued federal protection order could ensure that all 40 million rental households in the country remain resident during the pandemic.
However, the eviction ban is a groundbreaking test of the CDC̵
“This is definitely unprecedented,” said Lindsay Wiley, law professor and director of the health law and policy program at American University.
“The CDC has really broad authority on its face, but it has never exceeded the limits of that authority,” she said.
The coronavirus has forced millions of Americans into unemployment and the homelessness abyss. More than 10 million people in the US have been unable to find work after losing their jobs at the time of the outbreak, a sign of the pandemic
has challenged those who can least afford it the hardest.
The $ 2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Aid, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed by Trump in late March, imposed a national ban on evictions and foreclosures until July. But the ensuing stalemate over another aid package loomed around 20 million Households losing their homes, experts say.
“The United States is facing the worst evictions crisis in its history, and this moratorium is an important step in preventing these evictions,” said Emily Benfer, law professor at Wake Forest University.
The CDC order is intended to prevent this crisis by prohibiting landlords from kicking tenants out simply because they can no longer afford to pay rent. The ban applies to any renter who expects to earn less than $ 99,000 this year, applies for state housing assistance, becomes homeless upon eviction, and tries to pay the rent. The same protection applies to couples filing together and earning less than $ 198,000.
Benfer said, without the ban: “We would have widespread homelessness, we would have increased the contraction of COVID-19, we would have all the damage that comes with the eviction.”
While the ban could be a crucial lifeline for ailing tenants, experts say its legal basis rests on a broad interpretation of a 1944 law. The ordinance cited by the CDC gives it the power to take whatever action it deems necessary to stop the cross-border transmission of an infectious disease.
The logic behind the order is that a tenant evicted and forced to move into someone outside state lines could further spread COVID-19.
“This doesn’t seem to have been hastily put together,” said Wiley. “It’s clearly written by someone who knows the pros and cons, CDC authority, and is interested in pushing the envelope, but in a way that is as defensible as possible in court.”
However, Wiley said the regulation in question mainly focuses on efforts such as fumigation and sanitation practices, making the ban vulnerable to legal challenge as to whether the CDC was exercising its power beyond the intent of Congress.
“I absolutely expect legal challenges,” said Wiley.
The eviction ban also creates the conditions for a painful start into 2021.
Tenants are required to pay the entire rent due in January according to the terms of their rental agreement. This is a daunting and likely impossible task for many households who would benefit from ordering. Landlords, meanwhile, could experience a sharp drop in income during the non-eviction period and be forced to sell their properties or take on massive debt to weather the storm.
Several Democratic lawmakers praised the Trump administration for the ban, but warned it could only worsen the crisis without rental support for renters and landlords. The Democratically controlled house passed bill in June that provides $ 100 billion in rental subsidies to cover the cost of a twelve-month eviction and foreclosure ban. The measure was not taken up in the GOP-controlled Senate.
“Without emergency aid, tenants – and their landlords – will fall behind more and more every month,” said Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownMillions Risk Loss of Power Without Nationwide Shutdown Moratorium Next Crisis, Keep People Working and Give Them Overnight Defense: US, Russia Trade Debt Over Syria Incident | Pentagon calls China’s “counterproductive” military exercises, missile test | Democrats push esper on COVID-19 response MORE of Ohio, the senior Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, in a statement Monday.
Vince Malta, president of the National Association of Realtors, a real estate agent in San Francisco, also warned that the eviction ban “will, as it is written, wreak havoc in our country’s critical rental housing sector and put innumerable property owners out of business.”
Avoiding a crisis in the coming months will likely depend on how far the Trump administration and Congressional Democrats can get on another stimulus package. Finance minister Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinDemocrats are seeking clarity on the wage tax deferral for McConnell federal employees unsure of a recovery agreement. The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Markey defeats Kennedy; Trump praises America’s enforcers in Wisconsin MORE advocated increasing rental support during testimony before a House committee on Tuesday, and the Democrats have made eviction and foreclosure a top priority in the negotiations.
“Whether in three months, in six months, or in a year, having millions of people displaced for not paying an annual rent is not a solution,” said David Dworkin, president and CEO of the National Housing Conference, a group that campaigns is committed to the expansion of affordable housing.
“You have to come up with a plan to find out.”