Will Congressional Inaction Spark Moratoria Restart?
January 11, 2022
Updated January 12, 2022
2 minutes

With key legislation stalled, what will Congress look to next? 

President Biden’s signature legislation - the Build Back Better Act – has seemingly hit a dead end in the U.S. Senate. While Administration officials are likely to continue negotiations despite objections from key lawmakers, it is becoming clear that the social spending package will not be passed soon – if at all.

The legislation would provide further economic support to Americans struggling from the COVID-19 pandemic, including increased renter assistance. And now, with little Congressional action, the rise of the Omicron variant, sustained inflation and diminishing funds for emergency rental assistance programs, the start of the new year could bring renewed worries of residents’ inability to pay rent and the fear of a reactionary rise in evictions.

Despite the predictions of an “eviction tsunami” following the end of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) national eviction moratorium in August, no such phenomenon took place. In fact, evictions in the months before and after the end of the moratorium were well below the historical average for the same months. At their peak over the past year, evictions nationwide were still less than two-thirds of the levels seen before the pandemic. Still, lawmakers continue to push for a nationwide cessation of evictions, just as seen in the Keeping Renters Safe Act of 2021.  Most state and local moratoria have expired, though some protections are still available for those applying for rental assistance.

It has been proven that moratoria have done more harm than good. Renters are already tens of billions of dollars in debt in the wake of the previous eviction moratorium and small mom-and-pop housing providers struggle to keep their units on the market.

Amidst the ongoing economic uncertainty, public health crisis and affordable housing shortage, Congress must focus its efforts on implementing sustainable and responsible solutions like increased funding for housing choice vouchers and expanding emergency rental assistance. The National Apartment Association (NAA) remains committed to robust advocacy against eviction moratoria, ensuring that the voices of the rental housing industry are heard and valued.

For more information on eviction policy, please reach out to Sam Gilboard, NAA’s Senior Manager of Public Policy.