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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has extended its national eviction ban through June 30, 2021. It was previously slated to end this month.
The moratorium is being extended in an effort to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. “Keeping people in their homes and out of crowded or congregate settings — like homeless shelters — by preventing evictions is a key step in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19,” CDC director Rochelle P. Walensky said in a statement.
The eviction was extended after more than 2,000 organizations and elected officials called for action, but some say it doesn’t go far enough to protect the most vulnerable. “Unfortunately, the administration did not act on the clear evidence and need to also strengthen the order to address the flaws that undermine its public health purpose,” National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) president and CEO Diane Wentzel said in a statement. “While the Biden administration is well aware of the shortcomings in the moratorium order that allow some evictions to proceed during the pandemic, the CDC director did not correct them. She simply extended former President Trump’s original order, leaving the loopholes and flaws in place, a disappointing decision that will result in more harmful evictions during the pandemic.”
One of the concerns is that the federal eviction protections aren’t automatic or universal. To qualify, you must meet the CDC’s guidelines and take action to be protected.
If you’re struggling with rent payments, here is what you need to know about your rights and where you may be able to find monetary assistance.
How to Qualify for Eviction Protections
In order to be eligible for the federal eviction moratorium, you must sign the CDC’s declaration form and provide a copy to your landlord.
With the form, you’re confirming that you’re unable to make your full rent or housing payment and that you have used your “best efforts” to obtain government housing assistance. You also must confirm that you will use “best efforts” to make partial payments as you can and that you meet one of the following guidelines:
- You expect to earn $99,000 or less ($198,000 if filing a joint tax return) for the 2020-2021 calendar year
- You were not required to report income in 2020 to the IRS
- You received a stimulus payment
During the eviction moratorium, you can still be charged fees or late payment penalties, and when the moratorium expires your landlord may require full payment for all of your missed payments. Furthermore, your landlord can request a court hearing to challenge the claims made in your declaration.
These rules apply to the CDC’s eviction ban, but many states have additional safeguards. To see what’s available to you, Eviction Lab maintains a comprehensive list of all federal, state and local protections for everything from evictions to utility shutoffs.
More Help You Should Know About
If you don’t qualify for the eviction moratorium and you’re struggling to pay your bills, other help may be available.
The government has allocated billions in aid under the Emergency Rental Assistance program. However, this money is distributed to state and local governments, so there’s no centralized application process. For a list of state and local aid available in your area, the NLIHC maintains a list of rental assistance programs.
If you qualify for unemployment benefits, the federal government has expanded and extended unemployment benefits through Sept. 6, 2021. And if you received unemployment in 2020, the first $10,200 in payments may be exempt from federal taxes.
While you may be covered by a state-level utility shut-off moratorium, there are also programs available if you’re struggling to pay your utility bills. The federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program provides help to low-income families paying electric, gas, propane, and heating bills. And there are a number of other state-level utility relief programs.
For those with student loan debt, you may qualify for forbearance, including no interest, through Sept. 30, 2021. This federal forbearance applies to student loans held by the U.S. Department of Education. For all other types of student loans, forbearance may be available on a lender-by-lender basis. So you’ll need to contact your student loan servicer and, keep in mind, you’re still likely to accumulate interest during this type of forbearance.