By Peter Cherry
On Tuesday, the Trump administration announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention implemented a temporary eviction moratorium through the end of the year, barring US renters from legally losing their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. This of course does not cover the evictions that landlords carry out illegally and without court authorization.
The CDC’s moratorium will be applied to all rental units nationwide until December 31 and goes into effect immediately. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told a US House of Representatives official Tuesday that the moratorium would cover around 40 million renters.
This move comes as jobless claims continue to climb across the US despite the ‘reopening’ of the economy. The consequences of continued layoffs along with a decline in average weekly earnings and hours of production are becoming apparent to the ruling class, who know that mass evictions at this moment could trigger new and reinvigorated rebellions.
A previous federal eviction moratorium created by the CARES Act ended in late July and only applied to federally funded housing, including rental units with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Likewise, in 24 of the 43 states and Washington DC that had eviction moratoriums, the measures were due to expire. According to the Aspen Institute, an estimated 19 million to 23 million renters risked being evicted by September 30 and, as of July 29, 43% of renters were unable to make rent and risked being evicted. This amounts to $22 billion in back rent owed to landlords being unpaid, a number which is expected to increase in the upcoming months.
This unprecedented declaration on the federal level shows the US imperialist government following the playbook of the social democratic states worldwide, which have likewise sought to stifle defiant actions by working people in response to the economic depression and health crisis through soft and temporary reforms against eviction. Even under the 2008 economic crisis, the Obama administration never suspended evictions. Trump has cleverly done this not just as counterinsurgency tactic to people rising up, but to shore up support among his reactionary base who may be facing evictions themselves, at a time where has been increasingly criticized for his response to anti-police rebellions and the pandemic.
The fear that the ruling class has should embolden tenants, who need to be organized in the face of impending mass eviction to block the violent removal from their homes and neighborhoods. Housing organizers must continue to agitate heavily and prepare in the next months. This temporary pause gives time to prepare for the inevitable end of the moratorium.
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