Is Biden right to ask for eviction ban extension?
- On Thursday, July 29, 2021, President Biden urged Congress to extend the eviction ban as the delta variant continues to spread. White House press secretary mentioned Biden “strongly supported” the idea.
- The same day, the Biden administration announced that it would ban eviction moratoriums nationwide that are due to expire on Saturday. Previously, the administration had extended the deadline from June 30 to July 31, 2021.
- According to the National Equity Atlas, around 6 million households owe $20 billion to their landlords, which is estimated at $3,400 per home. Hawaii has the highest rent debt while Arkansas has the lowest.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has upheld the eviction moratorium for about 11 months and “prevented hundreds of thousands of Americans from experiencing the heartbreak, homelessness, and health risks that too often emanate from evictions - particularly during a pandemic.
The Biden Administration has rightly realized that the majority of the much-needed pandemic housing aid has yet to be distributed, making the need for an extension on the eviction moratorium more important than ever. While Congress has marked nearly 47 billion dollars for this program, only about three billion has actually been paid out to those in need. To make matters worse, some states such as New York and Florida have paid out virtually none. This means that many of those who are behind on rent have had no assistance whatsoever from the government. There are approximately 6.4 million people currently behind on rent due to the pandemic, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development says 3.6 million of them could face eviction within the next two months if action isn’t taken.
Despite many states dropping mask mandates and other restrictions, the pandemic is still very much happening. The new Delta variant is currently spreading like wildfire through many unvaccinated communities and could potentially pose major risks for the complete reopening of the economy. With this threat to businesses, it makes sense to keep the eviction moratorium going a little longer. The end of the pandemic is in sight, but there is currently too much uncertainty about how the next few months will play out to let millions of Americans lose their homes. Many of these individuals have suffered greatly from the pandemic-related loss of income through no fault of their own; allowing them to lose their homes when the end of the pandemic is near is simply cruel.
President Biden is wrong to push for an extension of the eviction ban. The economic indicators don’t support the need to burden taxpayers with additional deficit spending for this initiative. The current unemployment rate is 5.9%, a 60% drop from April 2020 when it was nearly 15%. Household spending increased by 11.8% in the second quarter of 2021—“the second-largest advance since 1952.” Moreover, Congress has already provided $46 billion in emergency rental assistance as part of Biden’s coronavirus relief bills. Biden can’t simultaneously take credit for a post-pandemic economic recovery while asking for an additional government housing-related bailout.
It appears that Biden may have a political agenda to buoy Democrat’s prospects in next year’s midterm elections by supporting a giveaway program for demographic groups with a history of voting for Democratic candidates. Current data shows that Black and Hispanic families are more than twice as likely to report being behind on housing payments than White families. An additional consideration for Biden is that only 23% of renters are Republication (while 77% identify as Democrat or Independent).
Lastly, an extension of the eviction ban arbitrarily punishes property owners for trying to achieve a piece of the American dream by working hard and buying real estate they use and maintain to provide housing for their fellow citizens. Without landlords, there would be no housing options for those who can yet afford to purchase a home. The eviction ban is an example of the worst kind of ‘blunt instrument’ government intervention and overreach. Biden’s misguided approach will provide a disincentive for renters to ‘do the right thing’ (pay the rent they owe), thus increasing the number of delinquent renters whom taxpayers will have to bail out later on.