Biden administration officials are expected to make clear that they see this extension as probably the last one, according to the two people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations. The White House is ramping up efforts aimed at preventing evictions, in particular by accelerating the disbursal of federal aid to millions of renters across the country. These efforts are being led in part by Gene Sperling, who was brought into the administration to oversee implementation of the administration’s $1.9 trillion relief package, which included tens of billions in rental aid.
The economy has picked up momentum this year but the recovery has been uneven. There are still millions of Americans who are out of work.
The eviction moratorium was put in place last year during the pandemic, but concerns have intensified that renters across the country are unprepared to pay what they owe in accumulated back rent. As many as six million renters are currently behind on rent payments. But landlords and other property owners have called for a delay of the eviction moratorium, arguing it makes it harder for them to collect money from tenants.
The temporary extension reflects the difficult balance the administration is trying to strike in allowing the country to reopen without too abruptly pulling federal support for an economy still battered by the pandemic.
In addition to temporarily extending the moratorium, the White House will be working with municipalities across the country on eviction diversion programs and public education on the availability of rental assistance, the people said.
At Wednesday’s media briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration defers to the CDC’s timeline on the moratorium. But she added the administration is working to take “additional steps” to ensure American renters and homeowners can stay in their homes.
“It was always intended to be temporary. And the president remains focused on ensuring that Americans who are struggling through no fault of their own have an off-ramp once it ends,” Psaki said.
News that the eviction moratorium would be temporarily extended was reported earlier by Reuters.
“Extending the moratorium is the right thing to do — morally, fiscally, politically, and as a continued public health measure,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a nonprofit group. “Allowing evictions to proceed when there are tens of billions in resources to prevent them would be wasteful and cruel.”
Saoirse Gowan, a policy expert most recently at the Democracy Collaborative think tank, said the moratorium should be extended for much longer, adding “we’re not in a good enough place for people to avoid very, very serious hardship.”
“There’s still a bunch of tenants who still have debts and local governments’ rental assistance programs have been very slow,” Gowan said.