June 20, 2021

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Federal judge overturns national eviction ban – CNBC

2 min read

An eviction notice in Los Angeles.

Lucy Nicholson | Reuters

Federal Judge Dabney Friedrich struck down on Wednesday the national eviction moratorium, potentially leaving 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 slated to expire at the end of January, but President Joe Biden has extended it, first until April, and later through June.

Some 1 in 5 renters across the U.S. are behind on their payments amid the coronavirus pandemic, and states are scrambling to disburse more than $45 billion in rental assistance.

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Housing advocates have said that the national ban is necessary to stave off an unprecedented displacement of Americans, which could worsen the pandemic just as the country is turning a corner.

Researchers have found that allowing evictions to continue in certain states caused as many as 433,700 excess cases of Covid-19 and 10,700 additional deaths in the U.S. between March and September, before the CDC ban went into effect nationwide.

At least two other federal judges have questioned the CDC’s power to ban evictions. And landlords have criticized the policy, saying they can’t afford to continue housing people for free.

The decision by Friedrich of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, who was appointed to the court in 2017 by former President Donald Trump, is a victory for the property owners who’ve challenged the CDC’s moratorium.

It’s not yet clear if the impact of the decision will be widespread, said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. She was hopeful on Wednesday it wouldn’t be.

“Several court rulings have attempted to strike down the moratorium, but all had limited application,” Yentel said. “While this ruling is written more starkly than previous ones, it likely has equally limited application, impacting only the plaintiffs who brought the case.”

Housing advocates called on the Department of Justice to quickly appeal the ruling and the Biden administration to continue to enforce the moratorium.

Speaking at her daily briefing, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said the Department of Justice was reviewing the court’s decision and should have more to say later in the day.

“We also recognize, of course, the importance of the eviction moratorium for Americans who’ve fallen behind on rent during the pandemic,” Psaki said. “A recent study estimates that there were 1.55 million fewer evictions filed during 2020 than would be expected due to the eviction moratorium, so it’s clearly has had a huge benefit.”

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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