Rep. Cori Bush (Missouri) led a letter from House Democrats calling on Congress to pass legislation to extend a federal eviction moratorium, after the Supreme Court struck the last one down.
“Millions of people who are currently at risk for eviction, housing insecurity, or face becoming unhoused desperately look to their elected representatives,” says the letter, signed by the Missouri congresswoman and fellow Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and dozens of other Democratic House members.
“We implore you to act with the highest levels of urgency to advance a permanent legislative solution ... to extend the life-saving federal eviction moratorium for the duration of the deadly global health crisis.”
On Thursday, the Supreme Court blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium on evictions, put in place to protect renters from being evicted from their homes in the middle of a pandemic.
Earlier this month, Bush, who experienced homelessness herself, slept on the steps of the Capitol for days, protesting Congress’ and the Biden administration’s lack of action as the previous CDC moratorium was set to expire.
The Biden administration then issued a new targeted moratorium, meant to last at least two months — but the court’s latest ruling blocked this effort, leaving millions of renters vulnerable to eviction once again.
Last month, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) introduced a bill, the Protecting Renters from Evictions Act, to extend the eviction moratorium through the end of the year. The House didn’t vote on the legislation before August recess, likely because there weren’t enough votes to approve an extension. House lawmakers come back from recess in late September.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment. In a statement in response to the supreme Court ruling, Pelosi said the House was “assessing possible legislative remedies.”
Meanwhile, a rental assistance program put in place by Congress has so far failed to distribute billions in aid: of the $46 billion Congress allocated for renters as part of the federal response to the pandemic, state and local governments had only disbursed $5.1 billion as of last month.
Evictions disproportionately impact Black and Latinx people, particularly women.
Over 14 million renters in the U.S. reported to the U.S. Census Bureau in early August that they had “slight” or no confidence in being able to pay this month’s rent.
It’s worth noting that any local eviction protections, enacted by states or cities, remain in place.
Evictions have been linked to increased cases and deaths from COVID-19. A recent study from UCLA found that states that ended eviction protections in 2020, before the federal moratorium was in place, saw on average twice as many cases and five times more deaths from the virus about four months after evictions were allowed to resume. Ending eviction protections led to an estimated 433,000 excess COVID-19 cases and about 10,000 additional deaths nationwide.
“The impending eviction crisis is a matter of public health and safety that demands an urgent legislative solution to prevent further harm and needless loss of human life,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter. “If we do not act, this will undoubtedly lead to the increased spread of COVID-19, more deaths, and community-wide trauma.”