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Biden’s new partial eviction ban won’t shield renters once COVID-19 infections drop to normal levels

  • A caveat within the CDC’s eviction freeze means that certain counties may lose protection.
  • The new order applies to counties that are experiencing ‘high’ COVID-19 virus transmission.
  • The order will no longer apply when those counties remain at ‘controllable levels for 14 consecutive days.’ 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new eviction freeze applies to counties that are experiencing ‘high’ COVID-19 virus transmission. But it appears that the provision will no longer apply when those counties remain at ‘controllable levels for 14 consecutive days,’ according to the CDC.

The Biden administration directed the CDC to draft a new order after the agency’s federal eviction moratorium, which had been in place since September 2020, expired on July 31, 2021, without any congressional legislation to extend it. 

The CDC announced the policy on Tuesday evening and the new order is set to expire on October 3.

‘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.”

Yet the order ties an eviction moratorium to virus infection rates. It applies to counties not covered today that experience ‘high’ virus transmission in the future. But once virus infections drop to controllable levels for two weeks, the order no longer applies, sparking the threat of eviction once again.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Still, experts say more renters are likely to be shielded by the order in the short term, given the surging number of cases from the Delta variant in most parts of the country.

“Unfortunately COVID cases are increasing so rapidly in the US that it’s likely the order will cover more and more people in the next 60 days, not fewer,” Julia Raifman, a health policy expert at Boston University, told Insider. “A federal order is far better than no federal order though, so if it was this order or nothing, this is far better.”

Following pressure from progressive Rep. Cori Bush — who led a sleep-in protest outside of the Senate building for 5 days — as well as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others in the Democratic Party, the Biden administration reversed its position on Tuesday and the CDC introduced a new eviction freeze expected to cover 90% of renters, with caveats.

Still, Biden suggested at a Tuesday news conference that the plan may not work because of a recent Supreme Court ruling. 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 $45 billion out to people behind on rent,” he said.

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