March 18, 2020

Warren, Merkley, Sanders, Pressley, Porter Call for Eviction Moratorium for Renters Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Evictions During COVID-19 Pandemic Would Exacerbate Public Health Emergency

Last Week, Senators Warren and Merkley Urged President Trump to Issue an Immediate, Nationwide Moratorium on All Foreclosures on and Evictions from Properties Owned or Insured by the Federal Government

Letter to HUD (PDF) | Letter to NRHC (PDF) | Letter to AAOA (PDF)

Washington, D.C. - United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), along with Representatives Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Katie Porter (D-Calif.), today wrote to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) asking for a moratorium on evicting renters during the coronavirus pandemic.

In their letter to HUD, the lawmakers requested a moratorium on evictions for individuals living in HUD-assisted rental housing, public housing, and for Housing Choice Voucher recipients, and called on HUD to provide Public Housing Authorities with directives regarding informing tenants about financial hardship exemptions.

"Individuals living in federally-assisted rental housing and public housing need the certainty that they can take care of the health of themselves and their loved ones, and follow public health directives, without fear of losing their homes," the lawmakers wrote in their letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson.

Senators Warren, Merkley, Sanders and Representative Pressley also sent separate letters to the National Rental Home Council (NRHC) and the American Apartment Owners Association (AAOA), two of the largest trade associations for landlords in the country, requesting that they coordinate with their member partners to suspend evictions and offer deferred rent payment options with no late fees for tenants not able to pay rent as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

"Evicting families puts their health at risk, imposes trauma on and disrupts the education of their children, and exacerbates the risk of outbreak in their communities," Warren, Merkley, Sanders and Pressley wrote in their letters to the NRHC and AOAA. "Even as government actors work to get the necessary resources to our neighbors experiencing homelessness, private sector partners should avoid exacerbating the problem by evicting tenants during a pandemic."

Last week, Senators Warren and Merkley wrote to President Trump urging him to issue an immediate, nationwide moratorium on all foreclosures on and evictions from properties owned or insured by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Veterans Affairs (VA), or the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Housing Service (RHS), amid growing concerns of the economic ramifications of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Housing is a basic need for families as they seek to remain safe during this public health emergency, and families already living on the margin are now facing the threat of lost jobs and pay cuts due to the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), putting many in danger of missing a rent payment. There is a clear, urgent public health need to stop evictions during this pandemic, because safe and stable housing gives families a place for social distancing, self-quarantine, or to take care of family members who may be sick. In addition, evictions could contribute to a strain on hospitals when medical facilities are at imminent risk of being overwhelmed by the pandemic.

Senator Warren has also called for a $750 billion economic stimulus package that would focus on recovery from the grassroots up, not Wall Street down. Such a package would apply lessons from the 2008 bailout and provide direct help to families harmed by the coronavirus outbreak, including universal paid leave, increasing Social Security benefits by $200 a month, broad cancellation of student loan debt, and protecting and expanding affordable housing. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Senator Warren has worked to ensure that the Trump Administration is effectively responding to the outbreak and that the U.S. has the resources needed to address this threat. Her ongoing efforts include urging Vice President Pence to take swift, specific action to support Massachusetts and other states as they combat the spread of COVID-19; introducing legislation that would generate an estimated $10 billion in funding for coronavirus efforts by shifting funding from President Trump's border wall; and asking the CEOs of the U.S.-based "Too Big to Fail" banks how they are preparing to mitigate the economic risks of the outbreak.