Executive Order Does Nothing to Stop Evictions

August 10, 2020 For Immediate Release Deidre Swesnik, Director of Communications, 202-919-9106

Statement by Deborah Thrope, Deputy Director, National Housing Law Project

Washington, D.C.– On August 8, 2020, President Trump issued an “Executive Order on Fighting the Spread of COVID-19 by Providing Assistance to Renters and Homeowners.” Unfortunately, despite the title, the Executive Order does nothing to help renters and homeowners during this economic and public health crisis. It is important for the public to understand that the order does not expand protections previously enacted by the CARES Act, bar evictions moving forward, or provide emergency rental assistance funding. Landlords, courts, public housing authorities, and other entities can still seek to evict tenants.

“Trump’s executive order does nothing to help the 30 to 40 million people who could become homeless by the end of the year and in fact creates confusion for renters and homeowners alike,” said Deborah Thrope, NHLP Deputy Director. “The order outrageously asks HUD to look under the couch cushions to solve a massive housing crisis. Instead, the Administration should act today to ban evictions at all federally-assisted properties and programs. In addition, Senate Republicans must stop blocking the HEROES Act, which creates a universal eviction moratorium and supports landlords with $100 billion in rental assistance.”

Once again, this Administration is late to the table. This executive order asks HHS, CDC, and other agencies to ponder the question “is it necessary to prevent evictions during the pandemic?” The answer is yes, and experts and advocates have been saying it for months. More than 10 million people previously covered by the federal evictions moratorium in the CARES Act lost protections on July 24th, and tens of millions more Americans in private rental markets are vulnerable to evictions as local and state moratorium expire and the economic devastation of the pandemic continues to wreak havoc.

NHLP supports the universal eviction moratorium in the HEROES Act that passed the House on May 15th. The bill also includes $100 billion for rental assistance. Taken together, the universal moratorium and emergency rental assistance are what this country needs to halt the imminent wave of evictions. Further, HUD, USDA, Treasury, and other federal agencies have the authority to issue eviction moratoriums for the housing programs administered by their agencies. We support any efforts to utilize this authority to help renters and homeowners.