Ocasio-Cortez calls on CDC to extend eviction ban

Ocasio-Cortez calls on CDC to extend eviction ban
© Greg Nash

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOn The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Pelosi plows full speed ahead on jam-packed agenda Photos of the Week: Renewable energy, gymnast testimonies and a Met Gala dress Ocasio-Cortez, Bush push to add expanded unemployment in .5T spending plan MORE (D-N.Y.) on Friday called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to extend its eviction moratorium amid a massive backlog in the distribution of rental aid.

In a Friday statement, Ocasio-Cortez urged the Biden administration to prevent the CDC’s ban on most evictions from expiring on July 31 despite the agency saying in June it would not likely extend the ban past that date.

Ocasio-Cortez said it was “reckless” to allow the ban to lapse with a fraction of the $46 billion in federal rental aid actually in the hands of tenants, landlords and utilities companies. 

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More than 4.7 million Americans are not current on their housing payments and expect to be evicted or foreclosed on within two months, according to a survey conducted by the Census Bureau between June 23 and July 5. Roughly 8 million also said they don’t expect to make their next housing payment on time.

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“It is reckless not to extend the deadline when rental assistance funds have not gone out fast enough to protect people. Eviction filings have already spiked in anticipation of the moratorium being lifted,” she said.

Ocasio-Cortez also cited rising COVID-19 cases driven by the dominance of the delta variant as a crucial reason to extend the CDC order. Researchers at The Eviction Lab found that communities with the lowest rates of COVID-19 vaccinations are among the highest risk of evictions.

“We must protect the vulnerable and do everything in our power to prevent a mass eviction crisis,” she said.

The CDC in September issued an unprecedented ban on evicting tenants below a certain income threshold who were unable to pay rent due to a pandemic-related expense or hardship, winning praise from housing rights advocates. The CDC has extended that ban several times under the Biden administration, most recently in June, despite several legal challenges.

The Supreme Court upheld the ban by a 5-4 ruling last month, with Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughSenators denounce protest staged outside home of Justice Kavanaugh Why isn't Harris leading the charge against the Texas abortion law? Cori Bush introduces legislation aimed at expanding access to emergency rental assistance funds MORE arguing that the moratorium, while unconstitutional, could stand with the CDC unlikely to extend it and most of the federal rental funds still on the sidelines.

But with less than a week until the ban lapses, only roughly $3 billion — or 6.5 percent — of that rental aid has made it out to its intended recipients.