Biden’s Treasury has $50 billion to give to renters, but court rulings put millions at risk of eviction before it gets to them

Housing Advocates Boston Eviction Moratorium Sign

Summary List Placement

President Joe Biden has been trying to help renters at risk of eviction, including with elements of his $1.9 trillion stimulus, but the American legal system may get in the way of that.

A year-long federal moratorium on evictions began under President Donald Trump, when he directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to oversee the ban during the pandemic. On his first day in office, Biden extended the ban by three months, and on March 29, two days before it was set to expire, he extended it by an additional three months, to June 30.

However, since the ban was implemented, multiple landlords have filed lawsuits questioning its legality, and of the six lawsuits to end up in federal court, the results have split 3-3. Three ruled in support but courts in Texas, Ohio, and Tennessee have ruled the eviction ban unconstitutional. This has put renters in those states at risk of eviction before they even have the chance to receive aid, and the rulings could jeopardize the 10 million Americans behind on rent payments.

It’s basically a toss-up whether the eviction ban will be legal after all the lawsuits run their course, which is an issue  for the Treasury Department, which has $50 billion in emergency aid to give to renters, since that aid needs to be distributed before courts start processing evictions again. It’s important that the aid reaches renters first so they have the financial assistance to fight their evictions. 

“We are running the Emergency Rental Assistance Program every day like we’re going to lose the moratorium tomorrow,” a Treasury Department official told The Washington Post, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the program.

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Court rulings against the eviction ban

An order by the Texas Supreme Court to require judges to enforce the federal eviction moratorium has expired, and to the alarm of renters and housing advocates, the Texas Justice Court Training Center issued guidance on Wednesday telling judges it’s no longer their job to enforce the eviction ban.

“Courts are no longer authorized by the Texas Supreme Court to abate (put on hold) cases based on the CDC eviction moratorium,” the guidance said.

This followed a February 25 court decision in Texas that found the CDC’s eviction ban unenforceable and unconstitutional.

“We’ve had a failure of leadership that’s going to result in tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of Texans becoming homeless in relatively short order,” Mark Melton, who leads a pro bono team of 175 volunteer lawyers in Dallas, told NPR. 

Soon after the Texas ruling, Ohio followed suit on March 11, when a federal judge in Ohio ruled that the CDC overstepped its authority when it banned evictions nationwide. 

And on March 16, a Tennessee judge ruled that the eviction ban was illegal, saying in an order that the moratorium was “unenforceable in the Western District of Tennessee.” This does not bode well for the 19% of renters in Tennessee who are behind on rent, especially …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Politics

      

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