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The Biden administration said it would not renew a federal eviction ban.
It said its hands were tied due to a recent Supreme Court ruling that said Congress needed to act.
At least 6 million renters will be at risk of losing their homes in the near-future.
The Biden administration isn't extending an eviction moratorium that expires in two days, citing the likelihood of a challenge that would wind up at the Supreme Court. Instead, it says the ball is in Congress's court.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that the administration's hands were tied because of a recent Supreme Court ruling that stated Congress needed to renew the ban.
"Given the recent spread of the Delta variant, including among those Americans both most likely to face evictions and lacking vaccinations, President Biden would have strongly supported a decision by the CDC to further extend this eviction moratorium to protect renters at this moment of heightened vulnerability," she said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has made clear that this option is no longer available."
Psaki was referring to a high court ruling late last month with a 5-4 decision, only days after the administration renewed it for what officials intended to be the final time. Two conservative justices joined the majority, including Justice Brett Kavanaugh. In a short ruling, Kavanaugh warned the administration not to renew it beyond July 31, arguing that "clear and specific congressional authorization" would be needed for such a renewal.
Housing advocates had raised alarm about the slow distribution of emergency rental aid in the last few months. Treasury data indicates only $3 billion out of $47 billion has gone out to renters. The problem is also compounded by mounting virus infections from the Delta variant in most parts of the country.
"Congress can't pass a law by Saturday, especially w/no Republican support for extension," Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, wrote in a tweet. "If the federal government won't/can't act, states and cities must."
Around 6 million people are at risk of getting evicted in the coming months, or 16% of all renters, per Census Pulse Survey Data. Around one in four Black renters reported being behind on their payments.
Sen. Dick Durbin, the second-ranked Senate Democrat, said in a brief interview the White House should renew the federal eviction ban. "I think they should," he told Insider on Wednesday. "There are a lot of people still struggling. Let me tell you, a wave of evictions in America is not good for landlords or tenants."
House Democratic leadership is crafting a bill that would extend the moratorium until sometime at the end of the year, a person familiar with the matter told Insider. The vote may come sometime on Thursday or Friday.
But it faces long odds in the Senate given 10 Republicans would have to join every Senate Democrat in approving it.
Read the original article on Business Insider