July 20, 2020

Van Hollen, Tester, Colleagues Urge Administration to Enforce Housing Eviction Bans During Coronavirus Pandemic

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to put many Americans in danger of falling behind on monthly rent payments, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and a group of their colleagues urged the Trump Administration to enforce bans on housing evictions for the duration of the crisis. Senator Van Hollen, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, has pushed for increased assistance for American families facing housing insecurity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic – including by introducing the Coronavirus Housing Counseling Improvement Act in June.

In a letter to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, and Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria, the Senators wrote that an estimated 32 percent of renters were unable to make payments this month, and that despite a ban on evictions for renters in federally-subsidized housing, some tenants have still been unlawfully evicted during the pandemic.

“As you know, the CARES Act created temporary protections from eviction for millions of tenants who live in properties with federally-backed mortgages or that receive certain types of federal housing assistance,” wrote the Senators. “During a time when having a roof over your head is essential for Americans’ abilities to stay safe and healthy, Congress insisted that these safeguards be put in place to help those at risk of losing their housing in the midst of the public health and economic crises. These protections, as well as all tenant protections available under federal, state, and local law, must be honored and enforced.”

A recent oversight hearing by the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs with federal housing regulators revealed that, since April, communities in several states have allowed landlords to move forward with eviction proceedings, despite the mandated temporary protections for renters established under the CARES Act. The Senators urged the Administration to help renters understand what protections they have under the CARES Act, and to take proactive steps to ensure compliance with rules that prohibit evictions during the crisis.

“During this pandemic, when it is dangerous for individuals to even be required to appear in a court room, it is troubling that some renters have been unlawfully removed from their homes in violation of the clear protections of the CARES Act,” the Senators’ letter continues. “As evictions continue to rise, more must be done to ensure these protections are adhered to and any violations are immediately addressed, otherwise the repercussions will be severely felt by millions of the most vulnerable Americans, including elderly and low-income renters and many essential workers.”

Senators Van Hollen and Tester were joined by Senators Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii),Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.),  Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tom Carper (D-Del.), and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). 

The Senators’ full letter is available here.