Nearly $47B of Housing Aid Issued to States Hasn't Gone to Renters as Moratorium Expires

Nearly $47 billion of already approved federal housing aid issued to states has not gone to renters as the eviction moratorium ban expired over the weekend, the Associated Press reported.

Now, around 3.6 million Americans could be evicted from their homes starting Monday. Democratic leaders such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are asking for the eviction ban to go back into effect through Oct. 18 until the funds are received by renters and landlords that are owed the money.

"No landlord should evict without seeking that rental assistance, and states and localities need to get that money out urgently, and they can do that," said Brian Deese, the head of the White House National Economic Council, during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday."

President Joe Biden said local governments should "take all possible steps" to immediately distribute the money owed.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

People Protest Against Evictions
Nearly $47 billion in federal housing aid owed has not been distributed as the eviction moratorium expired. In this photo, Jamell Henderson gives a speech as demonstrators gather at Brooklyn Housing court during a 'No Evictions, No Police' national day of action on September 01, 2020 in New York City. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Pelosi said Monday it's "unfathomable" that Americans will be ousted from their homes during the COVID-19 crisis, and backed by the Congressional Black Caucus intensified pressure on the Biden administration to immediately extend the nation's eviction moratorium.

Millions of Americans are at risk of eviction during a COVID-19 surge, some as soon as Monday.

Pelosi and the Democratic leadership have called it a "moral imperative" to reinstate the eviction ban.

"We all agree that the eviction crisis is an enormous challenge to the conscience of our country," Pelosi wrote in a letter to colleagues. "It is unfathomable that we would not act to prevent people from being evicted."

Pelosi said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen would hold a virtual briefing Tuesday with lawmakers as they push to more quickly ensure the states distribute the federal aid.

Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio., the chairwoman of the influential Congressional Black Caucus, said the group has been in talks with the White House.

"Thousands of Black families and children could lose the roof over their heads at a time when the deadly pandemic is surging once again," she said in a statement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put the ban in place as part of the COVID-19 response when jobs shifted and many workers lost income. The ban was intended to hold back the spread of the virus among people put out on the streets and into shelters.

Late last week, Biden announced he was allowing the ban to expire, rather than challenge the Supreme Court which signaled it would not allow the moratorium to be extended unless Congress stepped in with legislation.

Democratic lawmakers said they were caught by surprise by Biden's decision on Thursday, days before the moratorium was set to expire, creating frustration and anger and exposing a rare rift with the administration.

Congress was unable to pass legislation swiftly to extend the ban, which expired at midnight Saturday, and the House Democratic leaders have said it was now up to Biden's administration to act.

Progressive lawmakers, led by Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., and including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have been protesting at the Capitol. The St. Louis-area congresswoman has camped at the building overnight for the past several days.

Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said that Democrats had to "call a spade a spade" and pointed to her own party.

"We cannot in good faith blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have a majority," the progressive congresswoman said on CNN's State of the Union.

The White House, which has urged localities and states to tap aid already approved by Congress, had no direct response to the Democrats' call for action.

The administration and its allies in Congress have focused on the slow pace of pandemic relief already approved by Congress, nearly $47 billion in federal housing aid to the states that has not made it to renters and landlords owed payments.

Landlords also have argued for speeding up the distribution of rental assistance and opposed another extension of the moratorium.

As the deadline approached Saturday night, Pelosi urged House Democrats to check into how the money already allocated had been distributed so far in their own states and localities.

The White House has maintained that Biden wanted to extend the moratorium but that concerns remained over challenging the court. Doing so could lead to a ruling restricting the administration's ability to respond to future public health crises.

When the Supreme Court voted 5-4 in late June to allow the broad eviction ban to continue through the end of July, one of those in the majority, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, made clear he would block any additional extensions unless there was "clear and specific congressional authorization."

While racing to respond to Biden's announcement Thursday that congressional action was needed, Democrats strained to draft a bill and rally the votes. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., the chair of the Financial Services Committee, produced a draft of a bill that would require the CDC to continue the ban through Dec. 31. At a hastily arranged hearing Friday morning to consider the bill, she urged her colleagues to act.

In the end, Democratic lawmakers had questions and concerns and could not muster support to extend the ban.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Democratic leaders discuss their legislative agenda, including voting rights, public health, and infrastructure, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, July 30, 2021. J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo