President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Aug 8 that addressed eviction policy.
An eviction moratorium for properties linked to federal housing financing was included in the CARES Act, a major coronavirus relief bill. The moratorium expired in late July.
Trump’s executive order doesn’t extend the moratorium. Instead, it takes a softer approach by telling executive branch officials to think about possible solutions to evictions during the coronavirus pandemic and its related economic downturn.
As of Aug. 24, tens of millions of renters who were protected from eviction are no longer shielded against losing their homes for being late on rent payments.
Making matters worse, the weekly federal unemployment bonus of up to $400 that President Donald Trump ordered in August hasn’t yet kicked in, leaving nearly half of all US renters at risk of eviction in the coming months, according to an analysis by Statista.
Without new or renewed protections or financial safeguards like expanded unemployment or a second round of stimulus checks, as many as 40 million people could be displaced from their homes over the next year, according to the Aspen Institute — all during the worst economic recession since the Great Depression.
The order instructs the U.S. Treasury Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to identify funds that could potentially be used to help renters and homeowners who can’t make their housing payments because of the coronavirus.
In the meantime, renters can still be evicted and homeowners may still lose their homes. Over 30% of U.S. households had outstanding housing payments at the beginning of August, a recent survey from rental website Apartment List found.
Congress has allowed many of the financial provisions from the CARES Act to expire, including the federal eviction moratorium, as it struggles to reach a new deal.
Over 30 million people are out of work and about 19 to 23 million renters are at risk of eviction by October, according to the Covid-19 Eviction Defense Project, a coalition of economic researchers and legal experts.
When President Donald Trump signed an executive order on August 8 to shield tenants from the threat of eviction, he said it would “solve that problem largely, hopefully completely.”
It won’t work
Not only this action would fail to halt evictions, it wouldn’t do much of anything to immediately help the 20 million or so Americans who face the loss of their homes in the next few months amid the coronavirus crisis
“It’s nothing but a political ploy,” said House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who dismissed the “so-called executive order” as a stunt designed to deflect criticism from the president. “It means nothing.”
The order will “mislead renters into believing that they are protected when they are not,” National Low Income Housing Coalition President and CEO Diane Yentel said in a statement. “This executive order is reckless and harmful, offering false hope and risking increased confusion and chaos at a time when renters need assurance that they will not be kicked out of their homes during a pandemic,” she added.
Negotiations to renew both measures as part of the next relief package have broken down. The expiration of those benefits means somewhere between 19 million and 23 million people — about one in five renters in the U.S. — will be at risk of eviction by the end of next month, according to an analysis by the Aspen Institute.
Trump, questioned at his Tuesday 11th August press conference about the prospect of mass evictions, said, “We are not allowing that to happen.” “We are stopping evictions,” he added, referring to the executive order.
The House has passed two bills that would provide $100 billion to help tenants pay their rent, but the Senate has not moved on either piece of legislation.