Federal judge lifts national eviction ban
Federal Judge Dabney Friedrich on Wednesday threw down the national eviction moratorium, potentially putting millions of Americans at risk of losing their homes two months earlier than expected.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has banned most evictions across the country since September. The protection was supposed to expire in late January, but President Joe Biden extended it to April and later to June.
About one in five renter in the U.S. is struggling to keep up with their payments amid the coronavirus pandemic, and states are struggling to pay out more than $ 45 billion in rental support provided by Congress.
A Justice Department spokesman said there were plans to appeal the ruling. She also seeks a suspension of the ruling, which means the ban would stay in place throughout the judicial battle.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said at her daily meeting that the Biden government had recognized the importance of the eviction moratorium on Americans who defaulted on rent during the pandemic.
“A recent study estimates that in 2020 there were 1.55 million fewer evictions than expected from the eviction moratorium. This clearly has a huge advantage,” said Psaki.
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Housing advocates have said the national ban is necessary to fend off an unprecedented displacement of Americans that could worsen the pandemic once the country turns a corner.
Researchers have found that continued evictions in certain states between March and September caused 433,700 cases of Covid-19 and 10,700 additional deaths in the U.S. before the CDC ban went into effect nationwide.
At least two other federal judges have questioned the CDC’s authority to ban evictions. And landlords have criticized the policy, saying they couldn’t afford to continue housing people for free.
The decision of Friedrich of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, appointed by former President Donald Trump in 2017, is a victory for the property owners who challenged the CDC’s moratorium.
Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said she was confident the judge’s decision would not deprive renters across the country of the CDC’s protection.
“Several court rulings have tried to break the moratorium, but all have had limited application,” said Yentel. “Although this judgment is more stringent than the previous ones, it is likely to have an equally limited application, affecting only the plaintiffs who brought the case.”