Several hours after being sworn in, President Joseph Biden signed multiple executive orders and actions to address numerous COVID-19 related health and economic impacts. Among them President Biden directed the CDC to extend its national eviction moratorium through the end of March. The current order was set to expire on January 31st.
Restrictions on foreclosures of properties with federally-guaranteed mortgages were also extended to March 31st. Additionally, the deadline to apply for forbearances on such mortgages is extended to March 31st.
Earlier in the day, with news of the coming executive actions, the USDA Rural Development also extended its restrictions on evictions and foreclosures for the properties and mortgages in rural areas.
Other than extending the time horizons for these eviction and foreclosure moratia, the executive orders did not otherwise alter the existing orders. President Biden also continues to urge Congress to move quickly to pass additional COVID-19 relief to supplement these executive actions. In a proposal released last week (the American Rescue Plan), the new President also recommends Congress pass legislation for an eviction moratorium through the end of September.
Extending eviction protections will help to keep people housed while state and local agencies work to deploy rental assistance enacted at the end of December. North Carolina stands to receive over $700 million.
Update on Rental Assistance
As of this writing, it is unclear where the latest rental assistance funds will be administered. The HOPE Program, North Carolina’s statewide rental assistance program started in 2020, is the most obvious location. However the Governor and the NC General Assembly will ultimately make this decision. For now, the HOPE Program remains closed to new applications as staff work to process payments for those applications already received.
To date, the HOPE Program has assisted over 24,000 households in maintaining their housing. Over $62 million thus far has been distributed for rental ($47.2 M) and utility ($14.8 M) payments. New policy and program changes will be announced next week to increase the acceptance of funds and otherwise speed up fund disbursement.
The Coalition will continue to monitor developments at the national and state levels and will update members as information becomes available. Advocacy will be needed to ensure that these protections and any housing resources are adequate to meet the immense need.