Is the Newest CDC Eviction Moratorium Legal? Current Pause, Explained

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Aug. 4 2021, Published 11:50 a.m. ET

Following a dramatic expiration of the four-time extended eviction moratorium from the CDC, the health organization has reinstated a pause on evictions again. However, the CDC isn't Congress and many people wonder whether the eviction moratorium will be legally binding this time around.

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Here's a peek into how we got here, and whether or not the new CDC eviction moratorium is more face than substance.

Renewed eviction moratorium comes amid tightened CDC guidelines

With the COVID-19 Delta variant causing outbreaks across the U.S., the CDC has reinstated mask recommendations for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Meanwhile, business owners and local government officials are following suit with mandates catered to their specific populations.

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With these steps backward comes another familiar aspect of the pandemic—the eviction moratorium. The federal pause on evictions is now in place through Oct. 3, which gives renters an additional 60 days of security.

The U.S. was wary of a fifth extension, but the CDC found a way around it—or did they?

The CDC extended the original eviction moratorium a total of four times, but required approval from the Supreme Court for a fifth extension. Ultimately, that approval didn't come and the moratorium expired on July 31.

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However, the CDC found another way to bring the eviction moratorium back—by force. Officials waited for the moratorium to end, and then instituted another one to reflect the new wave of COVID-19 cases.

This moratorium impacts 90 percent of the U.S. population, or places where "substantial and high levels" of viral transmissions are taking place.

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Unfortunately for the CDC and many renters across the nation, this moratorium might not survive legal opposition.

How legalities could interfere with the latest CDC eviction moratorium

President Biden recently said that he doesn't have the authority to extend the eviction moratorium, which is true. The administration changed its tune with the new CDC rule. Ultimately, the goal is to remove the burden of finding shelter and being exposed to public places for renters who can't pay their back rent, all so they can take the step of getting vaccinated.

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The CDC wrote, "This moratorium is the right thing to do to keep people in their homes and out of congregate settings where COVID-19 spreads."

The CDC ruling now faces what Biden refers to as "constitutional muster," which may or may not be fruitful. Frankly, renters who can't pay back rent might not have another option, which makes it worth a shot for the CDC, the Biden administration, and representatives like Cori Bush of Missouri who has experienced the traumas of poverty-induced eviction. Some officials are more optimistic than others.

Despite the fact that government stimulus has caused poverty levels in the U.S. to decrease over the last year, the unhoused population remains a critical concern. The CDC's eviction moratorium could be the wiggle room some families need to make it out the other side.

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