BREAKING NEWS: Donald Trump Signs Executive Order Instructing Centers for Disease Control to Extend Nationwide Eviction Moratorium
President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order instructing the Centers for Disease Control to extend the nationwide eviction moratorium through December, as millions of Americans with little to no income struggle to pay rent.
The president, in real danger of losing reelection in a blowout landslide to Democrat Joe Biden, appears willing to risk the potential legal battles he may face by flexing his executive authority under state of emergency the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“I want to make it unmistakably clear that I’m protecting people from evictions.” Trump said.
The moratorium applies to renters earning less than $99,000 per year and is aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, which as of Tuesday has infected at least 6,000,000 Americans and killed more than 185,000. Tenants must prove financial hardship and that they are at risk of homelessness if they are evicted, administration officials told Bloomberg News.
“President Trump is committed to helping hardworking Americans stay in their homes and combating the spread of the coronavirus,” White House spokesman Brian Morgenstern said in a statement. “Today’s announcement from his Administration means that people struggling to pay rent due to coronavirus will not have to worry about being evicted, and risk further spreading of or exposure to the disease due to economic hardship.”
Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, added that the “unprecedented action is further proof that President Trump is doing everything in his power to keep the American people safe and secure in their homes.”
One unnamed insider told NBC News that Trump’s executive order goes beyond the HEROES Act because it applies to all renters, not just those living in government-subsidized housing or with FHA mortgages.
“To prevent evictions that could exacerbate the spread of this pandemic, Americans need a place to be able to quarantine or isolate,” the official said. “Evictions undermine that objective.”
Renters are not completely off the hook, however, as they are be responsible for paying as much as their rent as they can, and landlords may be able to seek financial judgements against tenants who are in default. Whether they will aftually be able to collect on it, or what the potential consequences for tenants would be if they are sued by their landlords, remains an open question.
Keeping open lines of communication with landlords is key, because they are often willing to negotiate a deal, at least temporarily.
At the very least, Trump and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill appear to haver finally found a morsel of synergy, despite the passage of the $3 trillion HEROES Act by the House in May, which offered $175 billion in rental assistance to struggling tenants.
That bill has sat on the desk of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for four months, because his corporatist Republican caucus has said no to pretty much any additional economic stimulus programs since Congress passed the HEROES Act in May. That program provided a one-time $1200 payment to most Americans and a $600 per week supplement to Americans who lost their jobs because of COVID-19. Those payments expired in July because Republicans said they were no longer necessary.
But Democrats have not backed down.
“The rent is due today, but too many families won’t be able to make payments through no fault of their own, pushing them deeper into debt and the prospect of being thrown out of their homes,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-NY) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a statement on Tuesday. “Right now, over 40 million Americans are at risk of eviction.”