Three judges were dissenting. Judge Stephen Breyer, writing for all three, pointed to the increase in COVID-19 caused by the delta variant as one of the reasons the court should have left the moratorium in place. “The public interest is strongly in favor of upholding the CDC judgment at this time, as more than 90 percent of counties experience high transmission rates,” Breyer wrote.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration was “disappointed” with the decision and said President Joe Biden “is once again calling on all entities that can prevent evictions – from cities and from states to local courts, to landlords, to Cabinet agencies – to act urgently to prevent evictions. “
Representative Cori Bush of Missouri, who camped outside the Capitol when the eviction moratorium expired late last month, said Congress must act to restore protections.
“We are in an unprecedented and continuing crisis that demands compassionate solutions focused on the needs of the people and communities who need our help most. We must give our communities time to recover from this devastating pandemic,” she said in a statement. “We haven’t slept on these steps just to give up now. Congress must act immediately to prevent mass evictions.”
Rent assistance has been distributed slowly
Biden had previously said that despite doubts about what the courts would do, the moratorium extension was worth a try, as it would save at least a few weeks for the distribution of more of the 46, $ 5 billion in rent assistance approved by Congress.
The Treasury Department said on Wednesday that the pace of distribution has accelerated and that nearly one million homes have been helped. Yet only about 11% of the money, just over $ 5 billion, was distributed by state and local governments, the department said.
The administration called on state and local authorities to “act more aggressively” in distributing rental assistance funds, and urged state and local courts to issue their own moratoria to “discourage eviction requests. Until owners and tenants have requested the funds.
A handful of states, including California, Maryland and New Jersey, have their own temporary deportation bans in place. In a separate order earlier this month, the High Court ended some protections for New York residents who fell behind on their rents during the pandemic.
The High Court strongly hinted at the end of June that it would take this route if asked again to intervene. At that point, the court allowed an earlier pause on evictions until the end of July.
Four judges would then have overturned the moratorium and a fifth, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, said Congress should expressly allow a new pause on evictions. Neither house of Congress has adopted a new moratorium on evictions.
The administration allowed the previous moratorium to expire on July 31, saying it had no legal authority to uphold it. But the CDC issued a new moratorium days later as pressure mounted from lawmakers and others to help vulnerable tenants stay in their homes as the delta variant increased. The new moratorium was due to expire on October 3.
Earlier versions of the moratorium, first ordered under the Trump administration, applied nationwide and were put in place out of fear that people unable to pay their rent would end up in overcrowded living conditions. as homeless shelters, which would help spread the virus.
The new moratorium temporarily halted evictions in counties with “substantial and high levels” of virus transmission and would cover areas where 90% of the US population lives.