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The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning the Centers for Disease Control’s eviction moratorium has ended the federal ban, but not the questions. Responses to the ruling from a broad spectrum of stakeholders make it clear that much more lies before the crisis is resolved.
Among those voicing support for the ruling was the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC), which has been at the forefront of opposition to eviction bans.
“The fact is that housing providers have been forced to completely shoulder the burden for their residents for more than a year, and that is just unsustainable,” Paula Cino, NMHC vice president, construction, development, and land-use policy, told Multi-Housing News. “The solution is to get financial assistance into the hands of those who need that assistance, which can benefit both residents and housing providers.”
NMHC anticipated rental relief programs would require a period to become fully established. Some jurisdictions have done a much better job establishing programs than others. The NMHC is urging jurisdictions that have been slower to respond to get their programs up and running as quickly as possible, Cino said.
“What we’re also doing now is reminding our providers to really reconnect with their residents to find the solutions right for them,” she added. “That could be extending payment plans or deferments, or helping residents connect with the rental assistance opportunities that are available to them in their areas.”
Voicing a differing view was The Council of Large Public Housing Authorities (CLPHA). Despite the eviction moratorium ban, CLPHA expressed public housing authorities’ commitment to nevertheless keep families housed.
“As mission-driven organizations, public housing authorities believe that keeping residents housed is the most effective policy for the families, communities, and public health safety,” said CLPHA executive director Sunia Zaterman.
She added the most effective lifeline residents and landlords can avail of are the two tranches of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program passed by Congress last year and in the first quarter of 2021.
AARP urged New York Governor Kathy Hochul and state legislators to extend the eviction moratorium and focus on distributing federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) funds as quickly as possible for rent, mortgage, and utility bill relief.
“AARP is encouraged by Governor Hochul’s intention to do just that,” AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel reported. “It is not acceptable that less than 8 percent of ERAP funds—$200 million—had been distributed for rent relief as of August 24.”
Martha L. Fudge, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, expressed her disappointment over the Supreme Court’s ruling that she said put millions at risk of losing their homes. She also pledged HUD would continue to work to safeguard renters “whose health and well-being are now in jeopardy.”
She added HUD joined President Biden in calling on state and local officials to distribute “with the utmost urgency” Emergency Rental Assistance funds provided by the federal government.
“These actions should include permitting evictions for non-payment of rent only after landlords and tenants have sought Emergency Rental Assistance funds,” she said. “We call on every landlord, every housing owner and every partner that receives our support to do all they can to protect the people of their communities.”
Congresswoman Cori Bush of Missouri also denounced the Supreme Court Eviction Moratorium decision. “Tonight, the Supreme Court failed to protect the 11 million households across our country from violent eviction in the middle of a deadly global pandemic,” she said. “We already know who is going to bear the brunt of this disastrous decision—Black and brown communities, especially Black women.”
The National Apartment Association (NAA), like the NMHC, disagreed, observing it has for months argued the CDC’s eviction moratorium is unlawful.
“(The NAA) is pleased with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down the order,” NAA President & CEO Bob Pinnegar said. “The government must move past failed policies and begin to seriously address the nation’s debt tsunami, which is crippling both renters and housing providers alike. Only by moving past moratoriums can we ensure America’s 40 million renters have affordable homes today, tomorrow, and in the future.”
Pat Jackson, the CEO, of Sabal Capital Partners, said the firm understands both sides of the debate. The Supreme Court’s decision was entirely expected, he said. He noted a federal judge had earlier ruled the CDC lacked authority to implement the ban.
“What the CDC’s extended moratorium had essentially done for the duration it was in effect, however, was to give both renters and apartment owners more time to take advantage of federal funds set aside to assist them with resolving delinquent rents,” he said.
“As a national lender heavily focused in the multifamily arena, specifically in the finance of affordable and workforce properties that house many of the renters negatively impacted by the ongoing pandemic, our view on the moratoriums, in general, is twofold,” said Jackson. “On one hand, we understand the U.S. is experiencing a housing crisis of considerable proportions. Our team works daily to make sure properties serving lower-income renters are financed and the country’s existing unit supply is maintained. This effort is designed ultimately to keep renters housed.”
“On the other hand, we also understand the challenge the eviction bans have placed on apartment owners and therefore know that the moratoriums must eventually come to an end,” he added. “This will allow all pandemic-related distress to be uncovered and help ensure the recovery and overall health of the multifamily sector into the future.”