The Biden administration will announce a new 60-day eviction moratorium that would protect areas where 90% of the US population lives, according to three people familiar with the plans who insisted on anonymity to discuss the forthcoming announcement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified a legal authority for a new and different moratorium that would be for areas with high and substantial increases in Covid-19 infections.
The extension helps to heal a rift with liberal Democratic lawmakers who were calling for executive action to keep renters in their homes as the Delta variant of the coronavirus spread and a prior moratorium lapsed at the end of July.
Administration officials had previously said a supreme court ruling stopped them from setting up a new moratorium without congressional backing, saying that states and cities must be more aggressive in releasing nearly $47bn in relief for renters on the verge of eviction.
The move is a win for progressive lawmakers, who have been camped for days outside the Capitol with dozens of supporters, trying to pressure the administration to put the moratorium back in place.
The administration had repeatedly resisted another extension because the supreme court appears likely to block it. When the court allowed the eviction ban to remain in place through the end of July by a 5-4 vote, one justice in the majority, Brett Kavanaugh, wrote that Congress would have to act to extend it further.
While as many as 3.6 million Americans are at risk of eviction, the administration has also emphasized that money has already been approved and many Americans will be able to stay housed with the efforts under way.
The focus on states comes as Biden faces stinging criticism, including from some in his own party, that he was was slow to address the end of the moratorium. Some people were at immediate risk of losing their homes.
The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, had called the prospect of widespread evictions “unfathomable”. The Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other progressive lawmakers intensified pressure on the White House to issue an immediate extension.
One Democrat, Representative Cori Bush of Missouri, has been camped outside the US Capitol in protest since the weekend.
“On Friday night, I came to the Capitol with my chair. I refused to accept that Congress could leave for vacation while 11 million people faced eviction. For 5 days, we’ve been out here, demanding that our government acts to save lives. Today, our movement moved mountains,” she tweeted after the announcement.
Bush was joined overnight on Monday by the New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the California representative Jimmy Gonzalez and others who gave her a brief reprieve so she could rest indoors. Bush also had a brief conversation Monday at the Capitol with Vice-President Kamala Harris.
“People could be helped right now,” said Bush, a first-term, St Louis-area lawmaker who has shared her own story of living temporarily in her car as a young mother years ago. “We need that moratorium.”
The CDC put the eviction ban in place as part of the Covid-19 response when jobs shifted and many workers lost income. The ban was intended to hold back the spread of the virus among people put out on the streets and into shelters.
Mass evictions could potentially worsen the recent spread of the Delta variant as roughly 1.4 million households told the Census Bureau they could “very likely” be evicted from their rentals in the next two months. Another 2.2 million say they’re “somewhat likely” to be evicted.