President Trump signed yesterday, December 27, the bill passed by Congress last week to fund the federal government for FY2021 and to provide emergency COVID-19 relief, including $25 billion in emergency rental assistance and an extension of the CDC’s federal eviction moratorium through January 31, among other things. President Trump had been threatening not to sign the bill unless significant last-minute changes were made, risking a government shutdown on December 29 and the possible eviction of tens of millions of struggling renters in the midst of the worst of the pandemic.
The CDC eviction moratorium was set to expire on Dec. 31. At that time, renters will owe an estimated $30 billion to $70 billion in back rent, more than they can possibly pay off. If the president had not signed the bill into law with an extension of the eviction moratorium, tens of millions of people would have been at risk of losing their homes with catastrophic consequences for children, families, communities, and our country’s ability to contain the pandemic. Increased evictions would have led to increased spread of, and potentially deaths from, COVID-19.
While extending the CDC eviction moratorium for just one month is insufficient to keep people housed for the duration of the pandemic, the extension provides essential and immediate protection for millions of renters on the verge of losing their homes in January. Extending the moratorium through January provides time for emergency rental assistance to be distributed, and for President-elect Biden to improve and further extend the moratorium immediately after being sworn into office.
Similarly, while $25 billion in emergency rental assistance is clearly not enough to meet the estimated $70 billion in accrued back rent or the ongoing need for rental assistance to keep families stably housed, these resources are essential and desperately needed. Targeting the funds to the lowest-income people will help ensure those most at risk of eviction are assisted first. Now that President Trump has signed this compromise legislation into law, Congress needs to get back to work in January on comprehensive solutions.
The enactment of this law to extend the eviction moratorium and provide emergency rental assistance is an enormous achievement by NLIHC members, allies, partners, and congressional champions!
For details on the housing provisions in the COVID-19 relief bill, see NLIHC’s fact sheet and estimates of state/territory allocations for the $25 billion in emergency rental assistance.