White House orders suspension of residential evictions

In Pennsylvania, unemployed workers demanded a rent freeze — one of many such protests held across the country. (Pittsburgh Current photos by Jake Mysliwczyk)

WASHINGTON — The President Trump administration announced on Tuesday it would temporarily halt residential evictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 infections.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin disclosed during a congressional hearing that the executive order would be issued. It runs through Dec. 31.

“I think you’ll be quite pleased with the impact that it will have,” Mnuchin told U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat who sits on the panel.

The order estimates that 30 to 40 million renters are at risk of eviction. “A wave of evictions on that scale would be unprecedented in modern times,” it says.

Whitmer suspends evictions until July 15, creates rent assistance program

The halt was issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services.

It does not relieve people of obligations to pay rent or preclude the collection of fees, penalties or interest as the result of the failure to pay rent or make timely housing payments.

Congress passed a ban on evictions earlier this year, but it expired at the end of July.

In Michigan, temporary suspensions on evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic expired on July 15. Per an executive order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, an Eviction Diversion Program was created in its wake. The program shows renters affected by the pandemic how to obtain rental assistance or develop payment plans to stave off evictions.

It’s May 1 and thousands can’t pay their rent. Here’s what some Michiganders are doing.

The program allocated $50 million — in the form of lump sum payments — to landlords, who in exchange would let tenants remain in their homes. Landlords who volunteer for the program would also be expected to forgive late fees by 10% of the amount due. Tenants with rent not entirely covered by the program will be offered the payment plans.

Whitmer created the program after the approval of SB 690, which set aside $60 million in COVID-19 relief funds for Michigan’s Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) to use in creating a state rental assistance program.

Some progressives in Lansing and metro Detroit have joined tenant unions and organized rent strikes during the pandemic, as the Advance previously reported. Rent strikes have taken place in cities across the country, including in Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Advance reporter C.J. Moore contributed reporting.