Merkley, Colleagues Call for Eviction Moratorium for Renters Amid Coronavirus Crisis

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, along with Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Representatives Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Katie Porter (D-CA), today wrote to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) asking for a moratorium on evicting renters during the coronavirus pandemic.

In their letter to HUD, the lawmakers requested a moratorium on evictions for individuals living in HUD-assisted rental housing, public housing, and for Housing Choice Voucher recipients, and called on HUD to provide Public Housing Authorities with directives regarding informing tenants about financial hardship exemptions.

“Individuals living in federally-assisted rental housing and public housing need the certainty that they can take care of the health of themselves and their loved ones, and follow public health directives, without fear of losing their homes,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson.

Senators Merkley, Warren, Sanders and Representative Pressley also sent separate letters to the National Rental Home Council (NRHC) and the American Apartment Owners Association (AAOA), two of the largest trade associations for landlords in the country, requesting that they coordinate with their member partners to suspend evictions and offer deferred rent payment options with no late fees for tenants not able to pay rent as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Evicting families puts their health at risk, imposes trauma on and disrupts the education of their children, and exacerbates the risk of outbreak in their communities,” Merkley and his colleagues wrote in their letters to the NRHC and AOAA. “Even as government actors work to get the necessary resources to our neighbors experiencing homelessness, private sector partners should avoid exacerbating the problem by evicting tenants during a pandemic.”

Last week, Senators Merkley and Warren wrote to President Trump urging him to issue an immediate, nationwide moratorium on all foreclosures on and evictions from properties owned or insured by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Veterans Affairs (VA), or the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service (RHS), amid growing concerns of the economic ramifications of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Housing is a basic need for families as they seek to remain safe during this public health emergency, and families already living on the margin are now facing the threat of lost jobs and pay cuts due to the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), putting many in danger of missing a rent payment. There is a clear, urgent public health need to stop evictions during this pandemic. Safe and stable housing gives families a place for social distancing, self-quarantine, or to take care of family members who may be sick. In addition, evictions could contribute to a strain on hospitals when medical facilities are at imminent risk of being overwhelmed by the pandemic.

The full text of the lawmakers’ letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson can be found here.

The full text of the lawmakers’ letter to NRHC Executive Director David Howard can be found here.

The full text of the lawmakers’ letter to the President of AAOA can be found here.