Leopold broke down his bed and his children’s bunk beds and packed up his belongings, preparing for himself, his wife and their six children to become homeless.
“I was trembling,” said Leopold, who asked to use his first name only because of the stigma attached to eviction. “But I was also hopeful that [President] Biden or Congress would come up with something.”
On Tuesday, they did. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new eviction moratorium that will protect most renters until at least Oct. 3.
That news means Leopold will have more time to secure rental assistance, find a job and keep his children in the same school district. “Now I have hope,” he said.
The CDC’s original eviction moratorium, which had been effect since September, expired on July 31, leaving the more than 11 million Americans who continue to be behind on their rent at risk. Three days later, the health agency has announced a new ban that will be in effect for 60 days in areas where Covid rates remain high.
Here’s what renters need to know.
How do I know if I qualify?
The new order covers renters in areas experiencing “substantial” and “high” levels of coronavirus cases. On the CDC’s website, you can check the level where you live. Some 80% of counties in the country should be covered.
You’ll lose the protection if your county has 14 consecutive days that fall below those levels, said Emily Benfer, a visiting law professor at Wake Forest University.
As a result, she said, “it will be important to monitor the Covid rates in their community.”
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To be eligible, you’ll also have to meet the requirements of the former eviction ban, such as having earned less than $99,000 in 2020 or 2021.
In addition, you need to attest that you’ve experienced a financial hardship during the coronavirus pandemic, that you’ve applied for rental assistance and that an eviction could lead to you becoming homeless or needing to double up with others.
Do I need to fill out the CDC declaration again?
If you meet the above requirements and haven’t filled out and provided your landlord with the CDC’s declaration, you should do so quickly.
If you’ve already done this, however, the protection should carry over and you shouldn’t need to take any other actions, Benfer said.
What else should I do?
Apply for rental assistance.
Congress has allocated more than $45 billion in rental assistance to address the crisis, and only a sliver of the money has been spent so far. If you’re approved for the relief, you could get up to 18 months of rent covered.
If you haven’t applied yet, you should act quickly. Doing so could help you stay in your home longer.
At least four states — Massachusetts, Nevada, New York and Oregon — are temporarily banning evictions against those with a rental assistance application pending.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition has a state-by-state list of the 484 programs giving out the federal money. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also has a tool to help you apply for rental relief.
Also, familiarize yourself with your other rights.
In addition to the CDC’s ban on evictions, a number of states and cities have moratoriums or other protections for renters. Renters in New Jersey, for example, can’t be kicked out of their homes until January.
If your landlord has moved to evict you, try to get a lawyer. You can find low-cost or free legal help with an eviction proceeding in your state at Lawhelp.org.
In some places, including Washington, Maryland and Connecticut, tenants facing eviction now have a right to counsel.