DC Council votes down measure that would've allowed resumption of eviction notices

DC Council votes down measure that would've allowed resumption of eviction notices
© Greg Nash

The D.C. Council on Tuesday voted down a measure that would have allowed landlords in the national’s capital to resume evictions for nonpayment of rent, a practice which has been under a temporary ban amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) proposed lifting the eviction ban so that landlords and tenants could take advantage of funding provided in the Stronger Together by Assisting You (STAY DC) program unveiled last month. 

According to its website, the fund established under D.C. Mayor Muriel BowserMuriel BowserTwo shot outside of popular restaurants in DC, police still searching for suspects The Hill's Morning Report - Surging COVID-19 infections loom over US, Olympics DC mayor, Nationals issue joint statement against gun violence MORE’s (D) office uses $350 million in federal funds to provide financial assistance for both renters and landlords “who are looking for support to cover housing and utility expenses and offset the loss of income.”

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However, other council members and housing advocates expressed concern that immediately resuming evictions while the STAY DC program is still in its early stages could force out renters before they or their landlords are able to secure support from the fund. 

Council member Trayon White Sr. (D) said during Tuesday’s meeting, “Until the District returns to normalcy, residents need as much support as possible,” The Washington Post reported

Council member Janeese Lewis George (D) pointed out Tuesday that more than 60 percent of the city’s executed evictions happen in Wards 7 and 8 in Southeast D.C., but “D.C. hasn’t fully vaccinated even 20 percent of its residents east of the river yet.” 

“While I certainly hope we will be in a much better place in the coming months, I’m not comfortable lifting the moratorium on optimism alone,” George said. 

Instead of voting Tuesday, the council decided to hold off on making an official decision until Friday, when they plan to discuss the possible ramifications of ending the eviction moratorium in June. 

The council on Tuesday also voted to extend the District’s state of emergency until late July, despite the fact that Bowser has lifted the city’s mask mandate for fully vaccinated individuals in line with updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

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The city also plans to end many capacity restrictions on businesses in the city starting Friday. 

Discussions on whether to continue the city’s temporary ban on evictions comes days after a federal judge agreed to delay the enforcement of her ruling striking down the nationwide eviction freeze. 

The decision allows the CDC eviction moratorium to stay in place while the Biden administration appeals the judge’s earlier decision. 

U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich in her ruling granting the stay said the CDC’s “strong interest in controlling the spread of COVID-19 and protecting public health” outweighed certain outcomes that could result from a continued eviction ban, including landlords’ potential loss of revenue.