The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has taken a key step toward extending an order aimed at preventing evictions during the ongoing COVID outbreak. The CDC order is currently set to expire in less than 2 weeks.
Housing advocates have warned for months that allowing this protection for renters to lapse would spark a tsunami of evictions, putting upward of 1 million people out of their homes.
The CDC has now sent a proposal to the Office of Management and Budget for regulatory review. The CDC hasn’t responded to a request for comment. And the listing on the OMB site doesn’t indicate how long the CDC might extend the eviction order for. The move doesn’t mean absolutely that the the agency will extend the order. But that now appears likely.
“It means that CDC likely intends to extend and perhaps improve the CDC order on evictions,” says Shamus Roller, the executive director of the National Housing Law Project. He says the order is preventing many evictions but that it has loopholes and needs to be strengthened.
Nearly 10 million Americans are behind on their rent payments, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In the last two COVID relief bills, Congress has approved more than $50 billion for rental assistance.
But the state and local application portals that the money will flow through are only just now opening up to take applications. So the vast majority of people who need the help won’t have gotten it by the end of March when the CDC eviction order expires. That’s one reason advocates have been calling on the CDC to extend the order.
Studies have found that evictions spread COVID and result in more deaths from the disease since people are forced into more crowded living situations and often double up with other families or family members. That’s the reason the CDC issued its order back in September to try to contain the outbreak.
Landlord groups have applauded the rental assistance money from Congress, but they are opposed to the CDC extending its order, saying landlords need to have the right to move forward with eviction cases a year into the pandemic.