Graham Kilmer

How Does The Eviction Moratorium Work?

Latest order only covers areas with substantial or high COVID-19 transmission. That includes Milwaukee, for now.

By - Aug 17th, 2021 05:52 pm
Homes in the city of Milwaukee. Photo by Carl Baehr.

Homes in the city of Milwaukee. Photo by Carl Baehr.

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new eviction moratorium, though it’s more narrowly tailored than previous orders.

The moratorium will be in effect until October 3rd, and it only applies to counties that are experiencing high or substantial transmission of COVID-19. If a county goes 14 days without experiencing those levels of transmission, then the order will no longer apply.

Shortly after the moratorium was announced, Chief Judge Mary Triggiano of the First Judicial District told Urban Milwaukee that she determined the new order applied to Milwaukee County. The judge said she would “continuously” check the CDC’s COVID-19 data “to determine if our transmission rate has changed and whether the moratorium still applies.”

COVID-19 began surging in Milwaukee in early July. Two weeks ago, the City of Milwaukee Health Department reported that the city was experiencing “Extreme” transmission of COVID-19. Based on the latest CDC data, the county is still experiencing “High Transmission.”

Like previous moratoriums, the latest order is intended to provide another layer of COVID-19 mitigation for communities with high levels of disease.

“A surge in evictions could lead to the immediate and significant movement of a large number of persons from lower density to higher density housing at a time in the United States when the highly transmissible Delta variant is driving COVID-19 cases at an unprecedented rate,” the CDC noted.

When people are evicted, they end up staying with family or friends, or in a shelter. Shared housing situations can make it more difficult, or impossible, for sick individuals to social distance or quarantine, leading to further spread of the disease.

While the available COVID-19 vaccines have proven effective at preventing disease and severe outcomes like hospitalization or death, the CDC said, “The COVID-19 vaccination effort has a slower rate of penetration among the populations most likely to get evicted.”

As with previous moratoriums, anyone who wishes to be protected by the latest order must sign an Eviction Protection Declaration. This document affirms that a person has made efforts to obtain rent or housing assistance, and that they make $99,000 or less a year as an individual, or $198,000 or less a year as a household. If someone has already signed a declaration for a previous order, they do not need to sign a new one, Triggiano said.

Still, the order does not prevent a landlord from challenging the truthfulness of their tenant’s declaration. It also doesn’t prevent a landlord from evicting tenants for reasons other than failing to pay rent.

The new order can switch on and off depending on the level of transmission in a community. But anyone facing an eviction that was initiated, but not completed, before the moratorium took effect can still be covered by it.

The CDC stated in its order that the nationwide eviction data it had available to it indicated that the moratorium during the pandemic led to 50% fewer evictions than the historical average. But evictions never ended, and as of March, the Census Household Pulse Survey estimated that as many as 6.4 million Americans were behind on rent.

Read the CDC order here.

More about the Coronavirus Pandemic

Read more about Coronavirus Pandemic here

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