This morning the CDC announced that they would be extending the national moratorium against evictions from residential rental properties. The news is welcome as hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians are behind on rent and at-risk of eviction. Today’s announcement will extend the moratorium, which was set to expire on March 31st, to continue until June 30th.
The moratorium began in September 2020 as a response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. As numerous studies have shown, evictions can force many individuals to either double with other households, stay in congregate shelters, or experience homelessness. Being unhoused and living in too close quarters are both factors that increase someone’s likelihood of contracting coronavirus and becoming severely ill, further increasing one’s risk of dying.
While the moratorium’s extension will undoubtedly allow many people to remain housed, the existing moratorium contains weak spots that lessen its effectiveness in actually stopping all evictions for nonpayment. Unfortunately the CDC chose not to modify the policy in ways that help strengthen its protections. Enforcement will remain an issue although the CDC says that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will be “more active” in enforcement. It is unclear what CFPB’s enforcement activity will involve.
For us here in North Carolina, this is mixed news as the CDC moratorium has been adhered to inconsistently across the state. The ability to invoke protection from eviction using the CDC order has mostly varied from place to place and person to person. Because of this it is vital that Governor Cooper, at the very least, extend the current executive order affirming the CDC order to June 30th.
The HOPE Program, the statewide rental assistance program, is still disbursing payments using CARES Act funding and remains closed to new applicants. With only three months of further eviction protection, the state must move quickly with deploying additional rental assistance to endure that people are able to get caught up by June 30th.
Please keep watch from the Coalition for further news on the moratorium and opportunities for advocacy as it pertains to the situation in North Carolina.