Biden urges Congress to extend the moratorium on evictions in the United States.
US President Joe Biden urged Congress on Thursday to extend the federal prohibition on evictions, just two days before it was supposed to expire, as the Delta variant of the coronavirus threatens to stall the country’s recovery.
The 11-month-old ban was supposed to last through September, but a recent Supreme Court ruling indicated that it couldn’t go past July 31 without congressional approval, according to White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
According to Psaki, the step, which was ordered by the Centers for Disease Control in September 2020, “prevented hundreds of thousands of Americans from enduring the heartbreak (and) homelessness” of eviction if they lost their employment due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
“In light of the Supreme Court’s decision, the president urges Congress to extend the eviction moratorium as soon as possible to safeguard such vulnerable renters and their families.”
Meanwhile, the Treasury Department launched a public awareness campaign this week to promote the Emergency Rental Assistance program, which helps people pay for housing and utilities.
The Treasury reported in February that it had sent $25 billion to states and localities under the program, and that another $21.5 billion is available, but that less than $3 billion had reached tenants as of June.
The administration has been accused of mismanaging the program by Republicans in Congress.
Representative Patrick McHenry, the top Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, said in a statement Thursday, “This is a full-scale failure by the Biden Administration.” He said he’s been “demanding answers on the status of why these rental assistance money haven’t been disbursed.”
“Biden would have fully supported a decision by the CDC to further prolong this eviction moratorium to safeguard tenants at this moment of heightened vulnerability,” Psaki added, referring to the current spread of the Delta variety, which has forced several cities to reimpose mask restrictions.
The White House also urged housing-related government departments to extend eviction restrictions for federally insured buildings under their authority.