The Biden administration announced Thursday the nationwide eviction moratorium would expire Saturday, leaving some tenants in fear of finding past due rent notices on their doors. The federal announcement comes a week after Washington D.C.’s Mayor Muriel Bowser ended a local ban on evictions.
Joanna, 32, who lives in the Van Ness neighborhood, said she thinks the moratorium is ending prematurely.
“Rent isn’t an issue for me, but I’m sure it will affect a lot of people,” she said. “This is a really big change for residents, and I don’t think people know much about it or are prepared for it yet, especially with August rent due in a couple of days.”
The national moratorium was put in place last September by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 and protect renters in a moment of financial vulnerability.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Week 33 Household Pulse Survey, roughly 3.6 million people in the U.S. said they were likely to face eviction in the next two months.
Nequil Taborn, a 28-year-old bartender in Cleveland Park, said he is not worried about the moratorium ending, but thinks it should have been extended.
“I mean with this delta variant constantly changing, and a new mask mandate, clearly COVID-19 is still a threat,” Taborn said. “Policies, like the moratorium, should probably reflect that and not just end.”
In D.C. alone, around 250 residents could be facing eviction within the next 30 days, according to Daniel Clark, director of the tenant justice program at Rising for Justice, a consortium of D.C. law schools, judges and advocates focused on fighting injustice.
Those cases, Clark said, have already gone to judgement which allows for the U.S. Marshals Service to schedule an eviction.
“Even though the moratorium expires tomorrow, it’s not like the evictions are going to start getting scheduled right away,” Clark said. “And, we haven’t gotten any information from the Marshals Service about any being scheduled already.”
According to Clark, those 30 days gives residents time to apply for and receive financial assistance or to make up any outstanding payments themselves.
“I think the biggest challenge is getting the word out to people who would otherwise be eligible for some of these funds but haven’t filled out the application yet,” Clark said. “The other challenge is for those applications to be processed in time.”
Nora Grow, a paralegal specializing in COVID-19 eviction legal help at South Coastal Counties Legal Services in Massachusetts, said no one knows exactly how the end of the moratorium will play out.
“I am sure we will see a surge in evictions and in people losing their homes or with landlord disputes in some areas, but most counties have their own guidelines to sort of soften the blow for residents,” Grow said.
D.C. Council passed legislation intended to keep people in their homes in early July. It was later signed by Mayor Bowser.
It outlines a gentle phasing out plan that allows landlords to resume sending notices of past due rent, but eviction filings can’t begin again until Jan. 1, 2022. In the meantime, both the landlord and the tenant are expected to seek assistance from the city through one of its programs, such as STAY DC.
“Although there is this potential crisis,” Clark said, “there’s still time in there.”