Vice President for Housing Policy
Despite the President’s claims, his executive order (EO) does not extend the expired federal ban on evictions or provide more funds to tenants or landlords to cover lost rent payments. In fact, the EO doesn’t do anything that would immediately help people pay their rent and avoid evictions — though Administration officials are recklessly claiming that renters are now protected from evictions. That must be particularly concerning for the likely millions of people struggling to pay rent in August.
The EO claims to help renters who have suffered income or job loss due to COVID-19 and the resulting economic recession. The EO, however, merely asks federal agencies to “consider” and “review” if measures to halt evictions are needed; it does not specify what actions agencies can take to halt them. It also directs the Housing and Urban Development and Treasury departments to identify available funds to provide rent relief, singling out landlords, affordable housing developers, public housing authorities, and federal grant recipients for assistance. But without congressionally approved funding, it’s unclear what funds they can redistribute to protect these recipients, let alone renters.
Some 21 percent of all adult renters were behind on their rent in July, the most recent data show. That’s before the eviction moratorium and enhanced unemployment benefits, enacted under the CARES Act of March, expired. Without these protections, a wave of evictions may be imminent, experts fear.
The nation faces serious rental housing problems that this executive order doesn’t solve. Instead, policymakers should take a comprehensive approach to address them adequately. Such an approach would include: