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A federal judge scrapped a nationwide moratorium on evictions, saying the CDC went beyond its authority

Business Insider logo Business Insider 5/5/2021 insider@insider.com (Connor Perrett,Ellen Cranley,Juliana Kaplan)
a man holding a sign: Housing activists erecting a sign in front of Gov. Charlie Baker's house in Swampscott, Massachusetts. Michael Dwyer/AP Photo © Michael Dwyer/AP Photo Housing activists erecting a sign in front of Gov. Charlie Baker's house in Swampscott, Massachusetts. Michael Dwyer/AP Photo

A US federal judge on Wednesday blocked an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent landlords from evicting their tenants during the coronavirus pandemic.

"The CDC order must be set aside," US District Judge Dabney Friedrich said in a 20-page ruling.

The order was initially announced on September 4 to take effect for the rest of 2020. President Joe Biden on his first day in office extended the order through June 30 to aid struggling tenants through the pandemic's financial fallout.

Friedrich wrote that the ban was among "difficult policy decisions that have had enormous real-world consequences" in the pandemic.

"The question for the Court is a narrow one," the ruling said. "Does the Public Health Service Act grant the CDC the legal authority to impose a nationwide eviction moratorium? It does not."

US officials on Wednesday appealed Friedrich's ruling.

Judges in Ohio and Texas have also ruled against enforcing the ban, which has prompted concerns from renters and housing advocates. The Associated Press reported in November that while the nationwide order aimed to protect more than 23 million renters, it often left tenants vulnerable because of uneven enforcement at the state and local levels.

Data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has indicated that about 15% of renters are behind on monthly payments. In December, that figure was about 19%, Insider's Ayelet Sheffey reported.

As of January 2021, 10 million Americans were behind on rent payments, according to Moody's Analytics. Beyond the eviction moratorium, Biden had also allocated nearly $50 billion towards rent assistance in the American Rescue Plan. But, as Insider's Ayelet Sheffey reported, that assistance needs to be disbursed before courts start processing evictions again, and the cash infusion is a tool for renters to help fight off eviction.

That means that rulings against eviction moratoriums could jeopardize Americans getting rental assistance. The Washington Post reported that officials in the Treasury Department were "racing" to distribute aid before eviction moratoriums were struck down.

According to Moody's, the Americans behind on rent are "among the most vulnerable members of society: more likely to be unemployed, with less income and less education."

An April report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition found that, on the whole, renters of color were more likely to be behind on their rent in March. They found that "22% of Black renters, 20% of Latino/a renters, and 19% of Asian renters were behind on their rent compared to 9% of white renters."

Even with eviction moratoriums in place, 42% of those behind on their rent anticipated that they'd be evicted within the next two months. According to the Princeton University Eviction Lab, landlords filed 329,653 evictions during the pandemic.

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