July 31, 2021

ICYMI: On Senate Floor, Warren Urges Congress to Extend Emergency Eviction Moratorium Set to Expire at Midnight

One in Seven Renters, and Nearly One in Four Black Renters, Report Being Behind on Rent Payments

Warren: “Needlessly evicting families would risk escalating our public health crisis.”

Watch the Floor Remarks HERE

Washington, D.C. — Today, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren, member of the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, spoke on the Senate floor to urge Congress to extend the emergency eviction moratorium that is set to expire at midnight on July 31, 2021. The eviction moratorium and emergency rental assistance funding passed through the CARES Act has kept millions of families in their homes in the midst of an economic and public health crisis. As COVID-19 cases surge and 1 in 7 renters — including nearly a quarter of Black renters — remain behind on rental payments, evicting residents could exacerbate the public health crisis and hamper economic recovery. 

Earlier this week, Senator Warren also sent a letter to corporate landlords calling on them to commit to helping tenants obtain emergency rental assistance before initiating any eviction proceedings when the eviction moratorium expires.

Watch Senator Warren’s full remarks HERE.

Below are the Senator’s remarks as prepared for delivery: 

Thank you, Madame President. Almost exactly a year ago today, I stood here and called for Congress to take action to protect renters before the expiration of the eviction moratorium enacted during the early weeks of the pandemic.

Today, like a year ago, we are only hours away from a fully preventable housing crisis.

The CDC’s eviction moratorium expires tonight at midnight, putting millions of families still recovering from the economic fallout of COVID-19 at risk of losing their homes – from losing the bedrock of their safety and stability.

Right now, more than eleven million renters report being behind on rent. That’s one out of every seven renters. And people of color, who have been hit hardest by this pandemic, are disproportionately at risk. Nearly one quarter of Black renters report being behind on rental payments.

Last year, Congress worked together to account for that staggering reality. We provided more than $45 billion in emergency rental assistance. That money is now getting into the hands of landlords around the country. It’s helping families who lost a job get caught up on missed payments.

But the money is getting out too slowly. Some states and local governments only opened their assistance programs last month. Some hadn’t spent a single dollar by the beginning of June.

Now, that’s starting to change. In June, states delivered more than $1.5 billion in emergency rental assistance. That money went to help nearly 300,000 households. But there are still billions more dollars to distribute – and millions of families in need.

We have the tools, and we have the funding. What we need is more time.

Look, I agree that an eviction moratorium is not a long-term solution. But let me be very clear: it is the right short-term action. It’s how we keep families safely in their homes while states deliver emergency aid. It’s how we help families who are just starting to recover from the worst economic crisis of their lifetimes get back on their feet.

Millions of jobs lost, businesses still shuttered, and child care for too many families a patchwork of uncertainty. The recovery underway in this country is historic and it will continue, but it has not yet reached every family.

But the need is not just economic.

We are still in the throes of a public health emergency that’s trending in the wrong direction. Cases of COVID-19 are rising. Hospitalizations and deaths are rising. The delta variant is more contagious, threatening to spread faster among the half of the country that remains unvaccinated.

Needlessly evicting families would risk escalating our public health crisis. The CDC understood that reality when it issued an eviction moratorium in September. The agency was clear: and I want to quote the language they used “housing stability helps protect health.” Research suggests that moratoriums aid in reducing infections and death due to COVID-19. And research also shows that, when eviction moratoriums expire, there is an associated increase in COVID-19 and mortality.

Yesterday Congresswoman Cori Bush sent Members of Congress a letter. Congresswoman Bush has lived through eviction. She has been unhoused. And I want to quote her letter. She said, quote, “I know firsthand the trauma and devastation that comes with the violence of being evicted, and we have a responsibility to do everything we can to prevent this trauma from being inflicted on our neighbors and communities.”

Cori Bush is exactly right. 

My office has heard from so many people in Massachusetts who are terrified about the possibility of losing their homes. I know each of my colleagues here must be hearing these stories. In every state in this country, families are sitting around their kitchen table right now, trying to figure out how to survive a devastating, disruptive, and unnecessary eviction.

Letting struggling families lose their homes is a choice. 

It’s a privilege to represent people in Congress, and a duty to exercise the powers available to this body on their behalf. Every Senator in this chamber should be grateful that they have the power – right now – to keep these families safe. 

My colleagues understood the stakes in March of 2020 when Congress passed the CARES Act eviction moratorium into law. They understood the stakes when we provided historic funding for emergency rental assistance. I urge them to join me now in continuing this lifesaving protection, as states distribute assistance to keep renters housed, to keep landlords paid, and most of all to keep families safe. 


Thank you Madam President, I yield the floor.