More than 60 House Democrats on Friday demanded that congressional leaders work to revive a national eviction moratorium, after the Supreme Court blocked a ban imposed by the Biden administration.
Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) were among those who led a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pressing them to act with “the highest levels of urgency” to extend the eviction moratorium as part of an upcoming must-pass bill. Moderates including Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) also signed the letter, which cited the threat from a recent surge in coronavirus cases thanks to the Delta variant.
“Millions of people who are currently at risk for eviction, housing insecurity, or face becoming unhoused desperately look to their elected representatives to implement legislation that will put their health and safety first and save lives,” they said.
Thursday night’s Supreme Court ruling blocking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction ban thrust the issue back on to Congress’s to-do list. The Biden administration imposed the moratorium earlier this month after House Democrats were unable to drum up the votes to put the policy into law.
Pelosi on Friday slammed the Supreme Court for “immorally” halting the ban, calling the decision “arbitrary and cruel.”
“Congressional Democrats have not and will not ever accept a situation of mass evictions,” she said in a statement. “We will continue our work to ensure that families suffering hardship during the pandemic can have the safety of home, as we also work with communities to ensure the immediate disbursement by states and localities of the over $45 billion allocated by Congress for rental assistance.”
Eviction ban advocates in Congress would likely face insurmountable hurdles if they tried to revive the moratorium. More than a dozen House Democrats resisted legislation to reinstate an earlier version of the ban in late July. Republicans would probably block a bill in the Senate.
Bush, who signed Friday’s letter, was instrumental in pressuring Biden to bring back the moratorium earlier this month after the previous iteration expired July 31. She led a sit-in on the Capitol steps to protest its expiration.
“I urge my colleagues to reflect on the humanity of every single one of their unhoused, or soon to be unhoused, neighbors, and support a legislative solution to this eviction crisis,” she said Thursday.
About 7.9 million people reported they were not caught up on rent in the most recent Census Bureau survey, conducted in late July and early August. Of those, about 3.6 million tenants said they were “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to face eviction in the next two months.
The Supreme Court on Thursday night suspended the CDC’s latest moratorium more than five weeks before its scheduled Oct. 3 expiration. Two chapters of the National Association of Realtors petitioned the high court earlier this month to immediately overturn the latest version of the ban, saying the original moratorium imposed last September had cost landlords billions of dollars a month.
The court’s majority said allowing an eviction ban on public health grounds would give the CDC almost unlimited authority.
“Could the CDC, for example, mandate free grocery delivery to the homes of the sick or vulnerable? Require manufacturers to provide free computers to enable people to work from home? Order telecommunications companies to provide free high-speed Internet service to facilitate remote work?” the court’s majority said in the ruling.