- The federal eviction moratorium, which protects around 12 million renters from being evicted, is set to expire at midnight Friday.
- The moratorium was signed into law under the CARES Act, and while the House extended the protections under a $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed in May, Senate Republicans have not been able to agree to any further legislation leading up to several key deadlines.
- Now, millions of people will be forced to pay months of unpaid rent or risk being evicted.
- Here’s what you need to know about the federal eviction ban ending, what it might mean for you, and what resources are out there for those impacted.
As coronavirus cases continue to spike and renewed closures slow the already faltering U.S. economy, the federal protections that have prevented an estimated 12 million Americans from being evicted by their landlords are set to expire at midnight on Friday.
The eviction moratorium, which was signed into law in March as part of the $2 trillion CARES Act, protected nearly a third of U.S. renters who are residents of buildings and homes with federal mortgages.
Here’s what you need to know about the ending eviction prohibition, and what it means for renters.
What Happen’s When the Moratorium Ends?
Under the moratorium, landlords were prohibited from evicting tenants, but any unpaid rent continued to accumulate. With the eviction ban ending, millions of renters will now be forced to pay months of delayed rent or risk losing their homes during a pandemic and at a time when many are already struggling financially.
A recent U.S. census survey found that 23.7 million Americans—or one in three renters—had little or no confidence that they could pay next month’s rent. More than half of those people also said they had not paid their most recent month’s rent.
To make matters worse, the additional $600 a week in federal unemployment benefits that have helped millions of Americans make ends meet in the face of mass layoffs are set to expire by the end of next week.
In May, the House passed a $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill that would extend the benefits until next year, but in addition to declaring the bill dead on arrival, Senate Republicans have also said that the benefits must be much lower.
How low, however, has become one of several points of contention within the Republican Party, which is currently struggling to agree on the provisions for a last-minute coronavirus relief bill. For months, the party refused to take up any legislation on the matter, preferring instead to wait until they were closer to the deadlines outlined under the CARES Act.
Now that they are down to the wire to pass a bill before those deadlines expire, negotiations within the Republican Paty have been stalled due to divisions between the Senate GOP and the White House.
As a result, experts now say that both the delayed legislation and the cut in benefits could speed up potential evictions.
“We know renters have been struggling to pay their rent,” Samantha Batko, senior research associate at the Urban Institute told The Hill. “They’re generally lower incomes, have less assets to draw on, and work in industries that are subject to job loss.”
However, renters will still have a little time once the moratorium does end.
Landlords are still required to give renters 30 days’ notice before they can file an eviction complaint in court, meaning that even though the ban ends Friday, eviction paperwork will not be filed until late August. That could potentially give Congress more time to come up with a plan.
Will Every Renter Be Affected?
As noted before, the federal moratorium only applied to those who rent in buildings with a mortgage that has government backing. Additionally, some renters will still be protected under state and local eviction moratoriums. Under certain types of bans, landlords are also prevented from charging late fees or penalties.
While many of those moratoriums are not set to expire until August or September, some have already expired. According to the Eviction Lab, after local moratoriums expired, eviction filings went back to pre-pandemic levels almost immediately.
Unless both federal and local bans are extended, even more renters will face eviction in the coming months, according to an analysis by the Eviction Defense Project. The group found that of the 110 million Americans living in rental households, 20% are at risk of eviction by Sept. 30. Black and Hispanic renters are expected to be impacted the hardest.
What Can I Do If I Can’t Pay Rent?
If you are impacted by the federal ban ending and cannot pay your rent, experts suggest the first thing you do is tell your landlord and try to come up with a deal.
“A lot of landlords are willing to work with people in this situation. They would rather keep a tenant who can pay less than try to get someone new in,” Shamus Roller, executive director of the National Housing Law Project told the Washington Post.
Bob Pinnegar, the chief executive of the National Apartment Association, also told the Post that some property managers are providing help for their tenants, like waiving late fees.
Some states and cities have also created rent assistance programs to help people make up missed payments.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition has been tracking local rent relief programs on this page, where you can see if your state or city has any programs you can apply for.
If you want to look at some additional resources, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and mortgage loan company Fannie Mae have also set up pages with information for renters.
What Can I do If I’m Facing Eviction?
If you are facing eviction, you can seek the help of a legal-aid attorney, many of whom will assist you for free or a small fee. To find a legal-aid attorney, you can go to LawHelp.org or look up online resources and local housing rights groups in your area.
In addition to helping you navigate the confusing legal process, which varies by state, city, and even courthouse, a legal-aid attorney can also help you determine if your landlord is violating any federal programs by evicting you.
For example, earlier in the pandemic, the Federal Housing Finance Agency allowed property owners with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to temporarily skip some payments. As a result, landlords who have been able to skip paying their mortgages were barred from evicting renters or charging late fees while receiving that assistance.
The Legal Aid Justice Center has also created a page with resources in both Spanish and English regarding dealing with evictions during the pandemic.
Will Congress Do More to Help Address the Issue?
While Republican infighting continues to stall a much-needed coronavirus relief bill, Senate Democrats have proposed several plans to help renters, including some that had initially been outlined in the House bill passed back in May.
“Forcing thousands of people out of their homes during a pandemic will make a public health crisis worse,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Ma.), who, along with several other Democratic Senators, has been pushing for extending protections.
Among other things, the proposed legislation would expand the moratorium beyond the federal level and also extend it until next March. Notably, the plan would also mandate the creation of a rental assistance fund.
While Senate Republicans have broadly rejected the Democrat’s proposals, housing advocates have told reporters that they are hopeful Congress will act, because it is in their best interest to avoid a serious rental market crisis.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Hill) (Bloomberg)
Florida Cracks Down on “Vaccine Tourism”
- Florida is now requiring that people show proof of either full-time or part-time residency in the state in order to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
- The state has been hit with “vaccine tourism” as many people, predominantly wealthy individuals, fly to the state from other parts of the U.S. and abroad just to get the shot.
- So far, nearly 41,000 of the 1.3 million doses administered in Florida went to out-of-staters, though it is unclear if all those people were tourists or if this figure includes some part-time residents.
Florida Requires Proof of Residency
Florida is cracking down on “vaccine tourism” and requiring that people show proof of either full-time or part-time residency in the state in order to get a COVID-19 shot.
Previously the state was allowing anyone 65 and older, including non-residents, to get the vaccine. This resulted in people flying to the Sunshine State from across the U.S. and abroad just for the purpose of receiving it.
According to state data, nearly 41,000 of the 1.3 million doses Florida has administered have gone to out-of-staters. It is unclear if all these out-of-staters are tourists or if this figure includes some part-time residents.
Now, people must show a form of identification like a driver’s license or mortgage payment to receive it. Exceptions will be made for healthcare workers.
Vaccine Supply Continues to Be Limited
Wealthy people in particular were quick to schedule travel plans to Florida for this reason. According to the Wall Street Journal, there was an influx of Canadians booking private jets to Florida. Some were looking to book flights there and back on the same day, leaving just enough time for them to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, people in Florida and across the country are waiting in long lines and struggling to book appointments on glitching websites to get their shots. Vaccine supply continues to be incredibly limited and not everyone in high-risk groups have received them.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said this rule is not made to impact snowbirds, people who live in Florida during the winter to escape cold weather up north.
“They go to doctors here or whatever, that’s fine, DeSantis said, according to CNN. “What we don’t want is tourists, foreigners. We want to put seniors first, but we obviously want to put people that live here first in line.”
See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (CNN) (Travel + Leisure)
Amanda Gorman Wows the Nation With “The Hill We Climb”
- Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet, impressed the nation when she read “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration, making her the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history.
- Gorman’s said the Jan. 6 attack on the nation’s Capitol inspired her to focus on a message of hope, community, and healing in her poem.
- Big names like Oprah Winfrey, Anderson Cooper, Barack Obama, and Lin-Manuel Miranda have all praised her work.
Amanda Gorman Becomes Youngest Inaugural Poet
Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman wowed the nation on Wednesday as she spoke of healing, unity, hope, and what it means to be American while reading her poem, “The Hill We Climb.”
At 22-years-old Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she was the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles in 2014 at the age of 16. She then became the first national youth poet laureate in 2017.
Now, her books are topping Amazon’s Best Sellers list and they are not even scheduled to be released until the fall.
First Lady Dr. Jill Biden became a fan of Gorman after watching her give a reading at the Library of Congress. She then suggested that Gorman be a part of the ceremony.
“Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true: That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped That even as we tired, we tried,” Gorman recited during inauguration. “That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat but because we will never again sow division.”
Like President Biden, Gorman has struggled with a speech impediment and has been open about her experience overcoming it. She actually used poetry as a tool to correct it. First, she used it as a way of expressing herself without having to speak. Then she used it to bring her poems to life.
“Once I arrived at the point in my life in high school, where I said, ‘you know what? Writing my poems on the page isn’t enough for me,” she told CBS News. “I have to give them breath, and life, I have to perform them as I am.’ That was the moment that I was able to grow past my speech impediment.”
What Inspired “The Hill We Climb”
Gorman said the inaugural committee gave her freedom and flexibility when it came to choosing what to write about. She was well on her way before the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Those events then influenced her writing.
“It energized me even more to believe that much more firmly in a message of hope, community and healing. I felt like that was the type of poem that I needed to write and it was the type of poem that the country and the world needed to hear,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
That message came across clearly and the insurrection was depicted in part of “The Hill We Climb.”
“It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy and this effort very nearly succeeded,” she said. “But while democracy can be periodically delayed it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith we trust. For while we have our eyes on the future history has its eyes on us.”
Nation Impressed by Gorman
“Wow…Wow, I just, wow you’re awesome,” Cooper said when closing his interview with her. “I am so transfixed.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda also cheered Gorman on. “The Hill We Climb” notably references a line of scripture that appears in a “Hamilton” song. Gorman also said she used to sing the song “Aaron Burr, Sir” to help her say her R sounds and correct her speech impediment.
“I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise!” Oprah Winfrey wrote. “Brava Brava Amanda Gorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I.”
Winfrey also gave Gorman a ring with a caged bird on it—a reference to the famous Angelou poem— which Gorman wore during the inauguration.
Actor Mark Ruffalo joined the onslaught of praise, saying that her words will lead the nation.
Former President Barack Obama echoed that idea as well, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Gorman promised to run for president one day.
See what others are saying: (CBS News) (New York Times) (Los Angeles Times)
SAT Drops Subject Tests and Optional Essay Section
- The College Board will discontinue SAT subject tests effective immediately and will scrap the optional essay section in June.
- The organization cited the coronavirus pandemic as part of the reason for accelerating these changes.
- Regarding subject tests, the College Board said the other half of the decision rested on the fact that Advanced Placement tests are now more accessible to low-income students and students of color, making subject tests unnecessary.
- It also said it plans to launch a digital version of the SAT in the near future, despite failing to implement such a plan last year after a previous announcement.
College Board Ends Subject Tests and Optional Essay
College Board announced Tuesday that it will scrap the SAT’s optional essay section, as well as subject tests.
Officials at the organization cited the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the reason for these changes, saying is has “accelerated a process already underway at the College Board to simplify our work and reduce demands on students.”
The decision was also made in part because Advanced Placement tests, which College Board also administers, are now available to more low-income students and students of color. Thus, College Board has said this makes SAT subject tests unnecessary.
While subject tests will be phased out for international students, they have been discontinued effective immediately in the U.S.
Regarding the optional essay, College Board said high school students are now able to express their writing skills in a variety of ways, a factor which has made the essay section less necessary.
With several exceptions, it will be discontinued in June.
The Board Will Implement an Online SAT Test
In its announcement, College Board also said it plans to launch a revised version of the SAT that’s aimed at making it “more flexible” and “streamlined” for students to take the test online.
In April 2020, College Board announced it would be launching a digital SAT test in the fall if schools didn’t reopen. The College Board then backtracked on its plans for a digital test in June, before many schools even decided they would remain closed.
According to College Board, technological challenges led to the decision to postpone that plan.
For now, no other details about the current plan have been released, though more are expected to be revealed in April.