That’s the question many renters are asking after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Biden-Harris administration’s federal ban on evictions. The decision grants landlords the ability to move forward with evictions and blocks protections given renters during the pandemic.
“It would be one thing if Congress had specifically authorized the action that the CDC has taken. But that has not happened,” the judges wrote in their opinion. “Instead, the CDC has imposed a nationwide moratorium on evictions in reliance on a decades-old statute that authorizes it to implement measures like fumigation and pest extermination. It strains credulity to believe that this statute grants the CDC the sweeping authority that it asserts.”
The court determined that if a federally imposed eviction moratorium continues, Congress must expressly authorize it.
The White House issued a statement rebuking the decision. The administration again called on states and municipalities to use the American Rescue Plan money to aid renters and reimburse landlords.
“In light of the Supreme Court ruling and the continued risk of COVID-19 transmission, President Biden is once again calling on all entities that can prevent evictions – from cities and states to local courts, landlords, Cabinet Agencies – to urgently act to prevent evictions,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said.
Initially, issued in September 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Supreme Court let stand the eviction ban in June. However, after the ban expired last month, landlord associations again pressed for an end.
Some states and cities like the District of Columbia maintain a local ban on evictions that extends to January 1, 2022.
Both landlord and tenant can seek assistance from the city, Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office has stated.
D.C. has received more than $2.3 billion in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan, and Mayor Bowser has earmarked more than $500 million to various programs to build more affordable housing or refurbish existing housing.
In a dissenting opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer said the recent uptick in COVID-19 transmission rates was disturbing, and he warned that evictions would lead to significant public health consequences.
Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire senior correspondent