Biden Calls on Congress to Extend Eviction Moratorium

Asked if an extension could pass, Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who supports a long-term freeze, threw up his arms in frustration as he headed to a vote at the Capitol on Thursday and said, “Who knows!”

The federal moratorium was imposed last fall by the Trump administration, citing the danger posed to public health by evicted tenants spreading the virus as they sought shelter. Many states, including California and New York, have extended their own freezes through the fall, which could blunt the impact when the federal moratorium lapses.

Diane Yentel, the president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a nonpartisan tenants’ rights group, is pressing the White House to consider new steps, including imposing a freeze on evictions of tenants from federally backed apartments.

“We need more time to get the money out the door,” she said. “And the Delta variant has changed everything. The health crisis is not over.”

The Biden administration’s effort to head off a crisis gained modest momentum in June, with 290,000 tenants receiving $1.5 billion in pandemic relief, according to Treasury Department statistics released last week. To date, about 600,000 tenants have been helped under the program.

But the flow of cash provided under the pandemic relief packages remains sluggish and hampered by confusion at the state level. The biggest problem, officials involved in the program said, is that some states had no infrastructure to distribute the money, and have been slow to develop collaborations with legal aid groups, housing court administrators and landlord associations who have more expertise.

Some states, especially Illinois and Texas, have picked up the pace, but many states and cities have still failed to allocate any funding.

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