AND IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT MONEY
Last summer, when the pandemic was at its peak, the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (“CDC”) introduced a nation-wide moratorium banning most evictions -- a move designed to prevent the health crisis from snowballing into an economic and humanitarian crisis (which, unfortunately, still ended up being the case).
Now, that federal protection is fast approaching its end date of June 30, 2021. And there is still no indication that there will be an extension. Given that as many as 11 million Americans are currently behind on their rent, and potentially at risk of being evicted, that silence is particularly disconcerting.
Unwilling to wait, many states have proceeded to introduce and/or extend their own tenant-protection mandates. New York, for instance, has extended its eviction moratorium until the end of September for tenants that have endured COVID-related hardships. New Jersey has indicated that evictions would be banned for two months after its state of emergency is lifted – which effectively means, (as of today), tenants in the state are likely protected through August. Vermont will continue its ban on evictions through until a month after its state of emergency has ended (which is expected to happen later this month).
Even in those states that haven’t been as proactive, if tenants fear eviction for rent non-payment, they may apply for financial assistance from a $45 billion fund approved by Congress. States have been tasked with distributing these funds, and many, like New York, have created their own special programs for disbursing that aid.
But are those protections adequate? Many think not.
Washington state, for example, has passed new legislation that guarantees every tenant facing eviction, the right to legal counsel. Connecticut and Maryland are also considering introducing similar laws.