Supreme Court Ends Eviction Moratorium

Regulation | August 27, 2021 | by Juliana Bilowich

The Supreme Court ended the CDC's current eviction moratorium more than 5 weeks ahead of its expiration date on October 3, calling it an "unlawful" act by the agency. The ruling puts hundreds of thousands of renters at risk for eviction; LeadingAge members can take action now to prevent evictions among older adults. 

On August 26, the Supreme Court blocked the current eviction moratorium for non-payment of rent, originally in place until October 3. The latest in a series of eviction moratoria was issued by the CDC as a public health protection meassure as the Delta variant surges. 

In its decision, the Supreme Court said that while the CDC has a strong interest in combating the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant, the agency had been given "a breathtaking amount of authority."

According to an anaylis by Princeton's Eviction Lab, and by data reviewed by HUD's Office of Policy Development Research, the federal eviciton moratoria in place over the past helped to reduce evictions by about half, based on the amounts that normally would have been filed.

The Supreme Court majority wrote: "Our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in the pursuit of desirable ends...If a federally-imposed eviction moratorium is to continue, Congress must specifically authorize it."

HUD Response: "Deepy Disappointed"

In response to the Supreme Court ruling, HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge said in a press release: "I am deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court's ruling on the CDC's eviction moratorium...I pledge that the Department of Housing and Urban Development will continue to use every tool at our disposal to protect those people whose health and well-being are now in jeopary."

While HUD has not issueed a blanket eviction moratorium in place of the CDC's directive, HUD has issued tenant protections for residents of certain HUD-subsidized properties making use of forbearance relief. 

Congressional Action

The ruling puts pressure on congressional Democrats to implement a moratorium through legislation; the House of Representatives failed to do so earlier in the summer, falling just 14 votes short. The Biden Administration, anticipating the Supreme Court decision, has called on Congress to take urgent action, and has mapped out stratgies to counteract the impacts on renters states lacking renter protections, in particular Georgia, South Carolina, Ohio, and other states with large rent backlogs.

LeadingAge supports a continued eviction moratorium through the rest of the public health crisis and will advocate with lawmakers for continued protections.

How the Eviction Moratorium Impacts Older Adults

Although residents of HUD-assisted senior housing communities have mostly remained stably housed throughout the pandemic, housing-unassisted older adults, as well as older adults in tax credit-funded affordable housing communities, are at risk for losing their homes.

According to an analysis of Census Bureau data released earlier this summer, 12% of renters 55 and older were behind on rent as of June. Among all ave groups, racial and ethnic minority renters were much more likely to have rent backlogs than white renters, with 24% of black renters reporting being behind on rent, compared with the national overall percentage of 14%. States in the southeastern United States were impacted the most. 

Resources for Renters and Housing Providers

With the end of the federal eviction moratorium for non-payment of rent, millions of renter households remain behind on rent across the country, including older adults with low incomes.

LeadingAge calls on senior housing providers to exhaust all options before moving to evict residents for non-payment of rent, and has compiled a one-pager of available eviction prevention resources. These include:

  • The Treasury Department's Emergancy Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)
  • Repayment Plans that are affordable to residents
  • Legal aid and Congressional Assistance

To view LeadingAge's one-pager on preventing evictions in senior housing, click here.