In the new COVID-19 aid bill passed by both houses of Congress on Sunday, December 21 – the full text of which can be found here – and awaiting presidential approval, the national moratorium on evictions would be extended through January 31, 2021. Additionally, a fund of $25 billion will be established to assist qualifying renters who are struggling to keep up with their payments.
The extension of the moratorium is found under Section 502 of the new bill and is achieved by extending the order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – the full text of which can be found here – through January 31, 2021.
It is important to note that in order to be considered a “covered person” under the CDC’s order, an individual must be any tenant, lessee, or resident of a residential property who provides to their landlord, the owner of the residential property, or other person with legal right to pursue eviction or possessory action, a declaration under penalty of perjury indicating that:
- The individual has used best efforts to obtain government assistance;
- The individual either (i) expects to earn no more than $99,000 in 2020 or (ii) was not required to report US income, or (iii) received a stimulus check as part of the CARES Act;
- The individual is unable to pay in full due to experiencing a substantial loss of income, hours of work or wages, a lay-off, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;
- The individual is making best efforts, considering other nondiscretionary expenses, to partially pay the sum owed; and
- The individual, if evicted, would become homeless or be forced into close living quarters.
The $25 billion in rental assistance will be distributed by state and local governments which would be required to use no less than 90% of the funds they receive to provide financial assistance to eligible households for the payments of rent, rental arrears, utilities and home energy costs, utilities and home energy costs arrears, and other expenses related to housing incurred due, directly or indirectly, to the outbreak of COVID-19. The bill defines an eligible household to mean a household in which one individual meets certain, low income, qualifying requirements. The assistance is set to last for no more than one year, with possible three-month extensions. Additionally, eligible households whose income does not exceed 50% of the area median income and/or in which one or more individuals were unemployed on the date and for a period of 90 days preceding the date of the application will be prioritized.
Currently, President Trump is reviewing the bill and Congress hopes it will be signed into law before the Holidays.