The Biden administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) heeded the cry of House Democrats and housing advocates across the country on Tuesday and issued new measures to protect renters from evictions. The initial eviction ban expired on July 31.
The CDC’s new order will last until Oct. 3 and will apply to communities with high or substantial COVID-19 transmission and could cover close to 90% of renters, advocates say. Over 44 counties in Minnesota are now considered to have substantial or high transmission rates, including Hennepin County, according to the CDC.
“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,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky 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 is imperative that public health authorities act quickly to mitigate such an increase of evictions, which could increase the likelihood of new spikes in SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Such mass evictions and the attendant public health consequences would be very difficult to reverse,” Walensky continued.
At a press briefing Tuesday, President Joe Biden said he asked the CDC to craft another order, even though he had concerns about possible legal battles in light of the Supreme Court’s June ruling that the initial eviction ban could only be renewed through legislation. However, Progressive Democrats continued to push for the White House to act and their calls were heard.
If nothing else, the order can help give states and local governments time to utilize the unused federal COVID-19 money that has yet to be distributed, a point President Biden also reiterated on Tuesday.
Progressive Democrats declared victory upon hearing the news of the extension, particularly Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO), who spearheaded a movement to bring attention to the plight of renters by sleeping on the Capitol steps for five days. She was eventually joined by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and others.
Bush, a freshman congresswoman who was once homeless herself, tweeted on Tuesday: “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. For 5 days, we’ve been out here, demanding that our government acts to save lives. Today our movement moved mountains.”
Ocasio-Cortez joined Bush to dance on the steps of the Capitol in celebration. “Give @CoriBush her flowers,” tweeted Ocasio-Cortez. “She just paved the way for 11 million renters in the United States. Servant leadership in action.”
Rep. Omar took time away from her National Night Out rounds Tuesday evening to applaud Rep. Bush’s leadership.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, said in a statement: “From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of millions of renters, I thank the President for listening and for encouraging the CDC to act.”
The CDC is expected to make a formal announcement about the eviction moratorium sometime this week.