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Higgins calls for moratorium on evictions & rental assistance for landlords to be included in COVID relief package

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Wed, Dec 9th 2020 03:10 pm

While COVID is contributing to eviction toll, new research also shows evictions contribute to rise in cases

As negotiations continue on the next COVID-19 relief package, Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, is pressing for the legislation to include a moratorium on evictions and rental assistance for property owners.

In a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Higgins wrote, “In the face of increased unemployment, an insufficient safety net, and the rising threat of COVID-19 in my community and across the country, it is imperative that Congress prioritize housing insecurity in any relief legislation we pass this year.”

A press release noted, “Of those evicted, some are left homeless and others are forced to move in with family or friends if they have that option. The Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey finds 32% of renters would be forced to live with someone they know, creating additional housing crowding. Both situations increase the risk of COVID spreading.”

A brand-new pending research report found “Lifting eviction moratoriums was associated with increased COVID-19 incidence and mortality in U.S. states, supporting the public health rationale for use of eviction moratoriums to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

The report uses New York as a control, because it has federal and state eviction moratoriums in place. It examined the 27 states that lifted eviction moratoriums, finding an estimated 433,700 excess COVID-19 cases and 10,700 excess deaths during the study period from March 13 through Sept. 3.

Higgins further wrote, “Housing insecurity and homelessness is a significant issue in my community in Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and across Western New York. A strong coalition of government and community groups persistently advocate on behalf of those at risk of homelessness, sometimes fighting out-of-town, absentee landlords who lack ties to our community. This work is even more important as the weather grows severe during winter. And it has been compounded by the pandemic.”

A 120-day moratorium on evictions and funds for rental assistance for landlords were included in the CARES Act, approved by the House of Representatives on March 27. These provisions were extended by the administration and are now scheduled to end Dec. 31.

Higgins’ camp said, “A federal eviction moratorium helps millions of people. According to the federal register notice by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), ‘approximately 12.3 million rental units have federally backed financing, representing 28% of renters. Other data show more than 2 million housing vouchers along with approximately 2 million other federally assisted rental units.’ ”

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