Biden’s Recovery Plan Would Extend the Federal Government’s Extraordinary Eviction Ban Through September 2021
The conversion of eviction bans from an emergency public health measure to a semi-permanent economic relief program continues apace with President-elect Joe Biden’s new $1.9 trillion recovery proposal. His plan calls on Congress to extend federal moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures through the end of September 2021.
“Failing to take additional action will lead to a wave of evictions and foreclosures in the coming months, overwhelming emergency shelter capacity and increasing the likelihood of COVID-19 infection,” warns a fact sheet Biden released on his recovery plan.
That the president-elect is assigning Congress the burden of extending the federal eviction ban—rather than claiming the authority to issue one by himself—is a silver lining. The Trump administration relied on an expansive, legally tenuous view of its own executive authority when it issued a sweeping eviction moratorium in September.
Biden is instead encouragingly adopting a more limited vision of his presidential powers, even as he doubles down on a heavy-handed housing policy that is an unnecessary, and potentially counterproductive, means of preventing a true “wave” of evictions.
“While a lot of people are warning of an eviction tsunami, that’s not something we have seen anywhere yet,” Emily Hamilton, a researcher at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, told Reason in December.
Some of this can be attributed to the moratoriums that have been put in place at the local, state, and federal levels, Hamilton says, but “even if we look at the Great Recession, evictions didn’t increase over their typical rates because landlords know if they eviction someone for rent non-payment now, they don’t have options for replacing them with someone else who will be able to pay the rent.”
Eviction moratoriums have nevertheless become a ubiquitous feature of the government response to COVID-19. Provided Congress heeds Biden’s call, this will mean the federal government will have had some form of eviction ban on the books for 18 months.
These policies got started at the federal level back in March when Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson authorized the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to suspend foreclosures and evictions at single-family properties that had an FHA-insured mortgage for 60 days.
The CARES Act, passed by Congress later that month, extended that moratorium for 120 days and ex
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