The U.S. has now surpassed six million cases of COVID-19, the economy is a bona fide trainwreck, and millions of people are facing unemployment and potential houselessness. On Tuesday, the Trump administration authorized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ban evictions for many through the end of the year. At first glance, this seems like a wholly positive move that helps keep people safe in their homes and prevent the spread of COVID-19 — but as always, there’s a very big catch.
Yes, the moratorium on evictions will prevent landlords from forcing people onto the streets or into overcrowded living conditions for now. But those seeking to keep their homes will have to prove that they've made efforts to get government assistance for rent, that they can’t pay because of COVID-19, and that they would probably become homeless if they were evicted, CNN reported. That is a significant number of hurdles for a stressed out person trying to protect themselves and their family to jump.
Not only that, but even if someone does qualify to stay in their rental, the rent payments they miss aren’t forgiven, they’re just postponed. Basically, instead of being given aid that could help people get back on their feet, we’re being handed a huge bill, due January 1st.
Yes, the moratorium on evictions “will provide relief from the growing threat of eviction for millions of anxious families,” Diane Yentel, president of National Low Income Housing Coalition, a policy group focused on affordable housing, told the New York Times. But, she added that it’s also “a half-measure that extends a financial cliff for renters to fall off of when the moratorium expires and back rent is owed.” How, exactly, is it that we’re supposed to pay the giant rental debt we’re racking up while Congress stalls on a second round of checks?
It’s as if the Trump administration and the CDC are telling us not to worry because they aren’t going to rip off the band aid immediately while trying to pretend that it won’t hurt more later when the financial wounds are worse and more people are dead. Trump and the CDC want props for this ham-fisted move to distract us from the fact that we still don’t have those second stimulus checks and the pandemic shows no signs of stopping, but don’t be fooled. There’s no heroes here, just an emperor who wears no mask and his merry band of gaslighters.