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Millions of tenants face eviction as Supreme Court strikes down moratorium

Brick apartment building facades in Morningside Heights, New York
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The Supreme Court ruled against the latest eviction moratorium extension on Thursday, setting up a potential tidal wave of evictions that could put millions of renters on the street. In a 6-3 decision, the court said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not have the authority to continue prohibiting landlords from evicting tenants who are behind on rent.

The Biden administration directed the CDC to extend the ban last month in areas with “substantial” or “high” coronavirus spread. It was originally set to expire nationally on July 31. But the court’s conservative majority held that only Congress could provide that kind of continued relief.

Renters, who are disproportionately lower-income workers, face a precarious situation if Congress does not respond to the ruling.

“Back rent is piling up, rental assistance has been slow to get out, and mom-and-pop landlords that have been on the hook for a year or more may have to make the difficult decision to evict,” said Greg McBride, Bankrate’s chief financial analyst.

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimated that more than 11 million renters were behind on payments as of July 5.

President Biden authorized $46 billion in rental assistance this spring, but the funds are being administered locally, and they have been slow to get into the hands of struggling tenants with inconsistent application and distribution processes between municipalities.

Options for renters who have fallen behind

If you’re struggling to pay your rent, or make up for missed payments, there are be resources available. The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau released a rental assistance finder tool earlier this summer, which is designed to help renters and landlords easily find and apply for payment assistance for rent, utilities and other expenses.

You could also connect with tenant or housing rights advocacy groups in your area, and it’s usually helpful to keep the lines of communication open with your landlord.

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Written by
Zach Wichter
Mortgage reporter
Zach Wichter is a former mortgage reporter at Bankrate. He previously worked on the Business desk at The New York Times where he won a Loeb Award for breaking news, and covered aviation for The Points Guy.