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Eviction Moratorium

Demonstrators from Worker's Circle of Boston and members of City Life Vida Urbana rally in support of H.D. 3030, a bill to stop evictions during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, at the Massachusetts State House in Boston on March 14, 2021. (Photo: Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Progressives Say 30-Day Eviction Moratorium Extension 'Not Enough'

"This only puts more pressure on our country to find a permanent solution to the housing crisis," said Rep. Ro Khanna. "We can't keep kicking the can down the road."

Brett Wilkins

Progressive lawmakers and tenant advocates on Thursday said that while the Biden administration's 30-day extension of the Covid-19 eviction moratorium would provide brief but welcome relief for millions of people facing imminent eviction, U.S. leaders must work to find a permanent solution to the nation's housing crisis.

"If we don't make policy to solve for root causes... an eviction disaster is inevitable. Millions will never recover."
—Tara Raghuveer, KC Tenants

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Thursday that the eviction moratorium will be extended from June 30 to July 31, and that the move "is intended to be the final extension."

While some housing advocates applauded the temporary reprieve, others argued that much more must be done to address the crisis.

Following a recent call to action to the Biden administration, National Low Income Housing Coalition director Diane Yentel welcomed the extension, while asserting that "we must redouble efforts" to extend Emergency Rental Assistance aid "to tenants who need it to stay stably housed."

"It's not enough," activist and podcast host Thomas Speight said of the extension. "California alone has 758,000 people behind on rent collectively owing $4,700 each; [a] single month will not fix a lack of money problem."

Tara Raghuveer, director of the Kansas City advocacy group KC Tenants, tweeted that even if states and cities "hustle to distribute rental assistance this month, millions of tenants will still be stuck with massive debts."

"We can run around in circles every month talking about an eviction cliff or tsunami or whatever we want to call it," said Raghuveer, but "if we don't make policy to solve for root causes (the violence of commodifying basic needs), an eviction disaster is inevitable. Millions will never recover."

On Tuesday, ahead of the extension announcement, a group of 44 Democratic House lawmakers led by Reps. Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Jimmy Gomez (Calif.), and Cori Bush (Mo.) sent a letter (pdf) to President Joe Biden and Walensky urging them to "strengthen and extend" the moratorium.

"The impact of the federal moratorium cannot be overstated," the they wrote, "and the need to strengthen and extend it is an urgent matter of health, racial, and economic justice."

The lawmakers pointed to data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey showing that Asian, Black, and Latinx households are more likely to report being in arrears on rental payments.

Furthermore, they noted that "while vaccination rates are up and Covid-19 caseloads are down in many communities, those communities with lower vaccination rates and higher Covid-19 cases tend to be the same as those with renters at heightened risk of eviction when the moratorium expires."

"Allowing the moratorium to expire before vaccination rates increase in marginalized communities could lead to increased spread of, and deaths from, Covid-19," the representatives wrote. "We ask that you take urgent action to protect millions of families across the country."

The moratorium extension comes as states and cities are moving to mitigate the looming eviction crisis. Critics, however, say that some of these efforts are also inadequate to tackle the problem.

In California, some progressive leaders reacted angrily to Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom's announcement earlier this week that the state would pursue a plan to pay off all back rent accrued by low-income tenants, with San Francisco District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston calling the proposal "cynical B.S."

"Half the state lives in terror, fearing eviction, because [the governor and state] leadership focus on pleasing landlord lobby rather than helping people," Preston wrote.

Other progressive advocates went even further.

"We need nationwide rent cancellation but also guaranteed housing," tweeted filmmaker and activist Bree Newsome Wednesday.

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