New federal eviction ban covers renters in areas with high Covid rates, including New York

August 4, 2021

Photo by Daniel Lee on Unsplash

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday issued a new temporary moratorium on evictions that covers renters in areas with high levels of coronavirus transmission. The new order, which replaces the previous federal ban that lapsed on Saturday, expires on October 3 and applies to renters in counties that are experiencing “substantial” or “high” levels of Covid-19 spread, which includes all of New York City. While New York’s most recent state order halted evictions through the end of August, the new CDC moratorium provides renters an extra month of protection from eviction.

The new order comes as a response to the rise of the Delta variant, which now accounts for nearly all of the new cases recorded in the country. Roughly 80 percent of counties in the U.S. are considered to have high or substantial levels of Covid-19 spread, according to data from the CDC.

“The emergence of the Delta variant has led to a rapid acceleration of community transmission in the United States, putting more Americans at increased risk, especially if they are unvaccinated,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a press release on Tuesday. “This moratorium is the right thing to do to keep people in their homes and out of congregate settings where COVID-19 spreads.”

According to the CDC, the order will allow “additional time for rent relief to reach renters and to further increase vaccination rates.”

The latest moratorium will likely face legal battles. In May, a group of landlords challenged the ban on evictions and a federal judge ruled the CDC had overstepped its authority. The case moved to the Supreme Court, which decided by a 5-4 vote in June that the moratorium could stay in place through July 31, as NPR reported.

The New Civil Liberties Alliance argues the moratorium exceeds the “constitutional and statutory limits” of the CDC’s authority.

“After five members of the Supreme Court concluded that the existing eviction moratorium had no legal foundation, and Congress refused to grant the agency authority to impose a new order, the CDC has now claimed to discover new authority to act, “Caleb Kruckenberg, litigation counsel at NCLA, said.  “This is not how government should work, much less how ‘laws’ are written. If the CDC pushes forward the courts must swiftly shut down the agency’s lawless actions.”

In New York, there is $2.7 billion in state and federal aid available as part of a rent relief program. After a slow start to the program after launching in June, (New York was one of two states that had not sent out funds to renters by the end of June), Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last week plans to streamline the application process to help eligible New Yorkers receive the funding.

The program helps households that have experienced financial hardship, are at risk of homelessness, and who earn at or below 80 percent of the area median income. Those who qualify could receive up to 12 months of past-due rent, three months of prospective rental assistance, and 12 months of utility arrears.

The payments go directly to landlords, who must agree to waive any late fees due on past-due rent, not increase monthly rent, and not evict tenants for one year. According to the state, the program is expected to serve between 170,000 and 200,000 households across New York.

In May, Cuomo extended the state’s moratorium through August 31. Under the legislation, tenants must submit a “hardship declaration” document to prevent evictions. Landlords can still evict those creating “safety or health hazards for other tenants, and those tenants who do not submit hardship declarations,” according to the state. It’s unclear whether the state legislature will act to extend the state’s moratorium again after it expires at the end of the month.


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