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Eviction Moratorium Set to Lapse as Biden Aid Effort Falters

  • July 31, 2021

A crash effort followed, led by Gene Sperling, who was appointed in March to oversee Mr. Biden’s pandemic relief efforts, including emergency rental assistance programs created by coronavirus aid laws enacted in 2020 and 2021.

Mr. Sperling, working with officials in the Treasury Department, moved to loosen application requirements and increase coordination among the state governments, legal aid lawyers, housing court officials and local nonprofits with expertise in mediating landlord-tenant disputes.

In June, 290,000 tenants received $1.5 billion in pandemic relief, according to Treasury Department statistics released last week. To date, about 600,000 tenants have been helped under the program.

But administration officials concede the improvements have not progressed quickly enough. Over the past week, Mr. Sperling; Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council; Susan Rice, Mr. Biden’s top domestic policy adviser; and Ms. Rice’s deputy on housing policy, Erika C. Poethig, made a late plea for Mr. Biden to extend the freeze, according to two people familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations.

Dana Remus, the White House counsel, expressed concerns that an extension was not a legally available option, and other officials suggested it could prompt the Supreme Court to strike down the administration’s broad use of public health laws to justify a range of federal policies, and their view prevailed, the officials said.

In a statement Friday evening, Mr. Biden sought to put the onus on local officials to provide housing aid, saying “there can be no excuse for any state or locality not accelerating funds to landlords and tenants.”

“Every state and local government must get these funds out to ensure we prevent every eviction we can,” he added.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/31/us/politics/eviction-moratorium-biden-housing-aid.html

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