A new federal ban on evictions will only apply to counties with high Covid transmission rates

Collaborator: Streetlight
Published: 08/05/2021, 8:32 PM

(NATIONAL) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ordered a new ban on certain evictions on Tuesday, three days after its previous moratorium expired.

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During those three days, landlords took steps to push out tenants who had been covered by the ban, service providers who work to prevent homelessness said.

A renter in Oklahoma City told BigIfTrue.org her apartment’s property manager wouldn’t accept federally-funded rent assistance during the days when no ban was in place. Several neighbors in her apartment complex had already moved out before the CDC issued its new ban, she said.

The CDC created its ban in response to rising covid-19 cases and the Delta variant, which spreads faster than other versions. The two-month ban “is intended to target specific areas of the country where cases are rapidly increasing, which likely would be exacerbated by mass evictions,” the CDC’s order said.

Like the CDC’s previous bans, this one only prevents evictions stemming from past-due rent, and to be covered, tenants must fill out a document that says they meet the eligibility requirements.

This version has a big difference that may complicate the United States’ patchwork response to evictions during the pandemic. The ban only applies to counties where community spread of covid is high, potentially creating confusion for renters, many of whom didn’t know previous bans existed until appearing in court.

Based on CDC’s covid transmission data, the ban currently covers about 81% of counties in the United States.

Ample rent relief available or on the way

The US Treasury Department provided states and local governments with about $46.6 billion for rent and utility assistance, and BigIfTrue.org reported in June that renters in some states had waited months for rent relief. By the end of June, about $3 billion had been spent, according to the agency’s most recent data.

Community Cares Partners, an Oklahoma City resource center created to distribute rent and utility assistance during the pandemic, has provided about $40 million in aid and has about $150 million left to spend, Executive Director Ginny Bass Carl said. Like other organizations receiving Treasury funds for rent assistance, Community Cares has more than a year to spend the funds.

Periann Pulliam, CEO of nonprofit Upward Transitions, and Bass Carl said their organizations received more requests for assistance as the CDC’s previous eviction ban briefly expired.

“We’re able to take full advantage of any and every way that we can help people, but there’s a lot of desperation,” Bass Carl said.

She’s confident the organization will spend the money by next year’s deadline, despite some landlords refusing the assistance.

“Truly, it’s baffling because if I’m a landlord and there is a program that will help pay the rent that’s due to me, I want to make sure that I partake in that effort,” Bass Carl said. “I don’t know what’s provoking that because even if you end up evicting somebody, you would still want your rent paid.”

Since last year, a mix of local, state and federal eviction bans have been in place. The analysis firm Stout estimated last year that renters could owe up to $24 billion to their landlords.

“One of the challenges is going to be if someone has not been paying rent for several months, there are only a couple of places they’re going to be able to get all of that rent caught up,” Pulliam said. “We don’t have funding to pay six months to a year of rent.”

As they did before the pandemic, Upward Transitions, Oklahoma City and other community organizations are working together to keep as many people as possible in their homes.

“We’re all prepared to help in this crisis to ensure that families who need the assistance to avoid eviction are going to be helped,” Pulliam said. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t move fast because there are a lot of people who need the help and some of our money is tied up and we’re not allowed to use it just yet.”

The city is responsible for distributing federal covid relief funds to Upward Transitions and other organizations to aid renters at risk of imminent eviction. But those funds can’t be used if an eviction moratorium is in place.

“I think it would be better if they would find ways to help us use our funding and go ahead and start providing assistance,” said Jerod Shadid, a city planner for Oklahoma City’s homeless services. “And that way we could kind of start taking care of these things ahead of time and solve some of the problems I think we’re having.”

Apply for rent assistance with Community Cares Partners or find a program in your area.

Contact BigIfTrue.org editor Mollie Bryant at 405-990-0988 or bryant@bigiftrue.org. Follow her on Twitter.

This report was funded by our readers. BigIfTrue.org is a 501(c)(3) news nonprofit, and you can support our reporting here.


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