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Amid pandemic, CDC pauses evictions nationwide

row houses
(Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has enacted a ban on evictions through December 31, 2020. The temporary moratorium comes in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and only halts evictions related to nonpayment of rent for people experiencing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic.

In the order issued on Tuesday, the CDC said housing stability can effectively slow the spread of the disease. Because if people lose their homes, their risk of contracting the disease increases with moving into highly-populated areas, like shelters. 

“Eviction moratoria facilitate self-isolation by people who become ill or who are at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 due to an underlying medical condition,” the order said. “They also allow State and local authorities to more easily implement stay-at-home and social distancing directives to mitigate the community spread of COVID-19.” 

The order also requires individuals looking to have their eviction delayed to sign a declaration under penalty of perjury attesting that they’ve exhausted all other avenues of state and federal rent and mortgage assistance, and sets a 2020 income limit of $99,000 for an individual, and $198,000 for those filing jointly. 

But a statewide landlords association opposes the measure. The Virginia Apartment Managers Association said the rental housing industry can’t “continue picking up the tab for the government’s shortcomings.”

Patrick McCloud, VAMA’s CEO, also said the CDC’s moratorium is unconstitutional, because it doesn’t give landlords a way to financially recover from unpaid rent. 

“The only way you can recoup losses is by turning an apartment. So, in other words, it’s kind of like an airplane seat — if you keep flying someone around who’s not paying for the seat, how long do you keep doing that when you could be selling the seat to someone else who did pay?” McCloud said. 

In Virginia, the CDC’s ban is expected to delay nearly 9,000 eviction hearings from going forward after Labor Day, when a state Supreme Court-issued moratorium is set to expire. 

Virginia lawmakers are also taking up legislation during the General Assembly’s special session that would work alongside a proposed payment plan program to freeze evictions statewide through the end of the governor’s state of emergency and three months beyond. 

Editor's note: Since publication, the number of eviction hearings in Virginia has increased from more than 7,000 to nearly 9,000. We've updated the copy to reflect the change.

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