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September 8, 2020Advocacy Matters

Evictions of Tenants Could Be Detrimental to Public Health

Disability Matters with Joyce Bender

September 8, 2020

#AdvocacyMatters Segment 

Evictions of Tenants Could Be Detrimental to Public Health 

 

People with disabilities who are unable to pay their rent may want to know more about the recent Presidential Order halting residential evictions through the end of December.

The purpose of the Order is to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by limiting homelessness and increasing the number of individuals who would be forced to live together.  This Order does not apply to mortgage foreclosures. The implementing agency under the Presidential Order is the Centers for Disease Control.

On September 4, 2020, the CDC issued a Notice in the Federal Register.

Disability Rights Pennsylvania has a link to Notice in the Federal Register on our website at disabilityrightspa.org.

 

The CDC basis for the moratorium on evictions is 42 U.S.C. 264 which is a regulation in the public health code to control communicable diseases.  Among other things, the law allows the U.S. Surgeon General to authorize and enforce regulations necessary to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases from one State into another.

This is an emergency action from the CDC, not currently applicable under the Administrative Procedures Act.  Landlords and owners of residential property are not to evict any covered person under this Order where there are documented cases of COVID-19 that require public health protections.

The moratorium on evictions also cites 42 CFR 70.2 which provides the CDC Director with the authority to determine whether state measures are insufficient to prevent the spread of any communicable diseases and to take measures to prevent the spread as reasonably necessary.

There is some concern as to whether this Presidential Order, law and regulation are enough to prevent evictions. This law and regulation never mention housing in the list of examples but halting international entry into the country, inspections, disinfection, sanitation, and animal control are used.

Advocates also generally go through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development for housing issues.

The CDC has stated there are criminal penalties for violating this order.

The CDC Director provides tenants with a Declaration Form to give to landlords.  The tenant, under penalty of perjury, declares they have used their best effort to obtain government assistance for rent or housing, meet income thresholds, are unable to pay their full rent due to a certain set of circumstances, must still pay rent, and understand this is a temporary halt on evictions through December 31, 2020.

We have a copy of the Declaration Form at disabilityrightspa.org.  Please go to our website and read the form in its entirety.

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This is new information and we are still working to figure out how this will be implemented and enforced.

How do you know if you are covered by this Order?  Click on the Iink to the CDC Order and review the definition of “Covered person” or click on the link to the Declaration Form to determine if you are qualified for eviction protection under the Order.

 

CDC Temporary Halt in Evictions to Prevent Further Spread of COVID-19 Declaration Form 

42 U.S.C. 264 

42 CFR 70.2