Biden urges states to adopt eviction moratoriums

Mass., with Legislature in recess, seems unlikely to act

THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION on Monday called on states without bans, such as Massachusetts, to put in place eviction moratoriums for at the least August and September.

The state law blocking evictions during the pandemic expired last October and the federal moratorium came down over the weekend. Almost a third of the nation will be spared of evictions for the rest of August due to state eviction moratoria, the White House said.

Biden’s team also called on state and local courts to “heed the call of the Justice Department to pause eviction proceedings until tenants and landlords can first seek to access Emergency Rental Assistance — making evictions a last, not first—resort.”

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In a statement, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden on Sunday cited the “rising urgency of containing the spread of the Delta variant” in asking the Centers for Disease Control to again consider the possibility of taking executive action to extension its eviction moratorium. Psaki noted the US Supreme Court declared June 29 that the CDC could not grant such an extension without new Congressional authorization.

“He raised the prospect of a new, 30-day eviction moratorium — focused on counties with high or substantial case rates — to protect renters,” Psaki said. “This temporary measure would spur states and localities to ramp up emergency rental assistance programs to full speed this month, giving every landlord the opportunity to collect the rent they are owed and ensuring no eligible family gets evicted. To date, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky and her team have been unable to find legal authority for a new, targeted eviction moratorium. Our team is redoubling efforts to identify all available legal authorities to provide necessary protections.”

Gov. Charlie Baker and the Legislature appear comfortable deploying extensive federal and state resources to prevent evictions. The Legislature late last week embarked on its summer recess, a time when major legislating is put on hold, until some time after Labor Day.