Just a day after Maryland courts began new eviction hearings for failure to pay rent, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a moratorium on evictions through the end of this year. The order came on Sept. 1 and aims to slow the spread of COVID-19.
President Donald Trump issued an executive order on Aug. 8 urging the CDC to use its authority to temporarily halt evictions if necessary. That authority comes from the Public Health Service Act of 1944, which says that the CDC can take measures to stem the spread of contagious diseases if similar local measures are inadequate.
But Tisha Guthrie, a housing advocate in Baltimore City, says that the moratorium may not prevent a mass eviction crisis in the long run.
“This is not coupled with any kind of financial assistance,” she said. “If there is no funding, no financial assistance that goes along with this, it really is just a band aid.”
Guthrie added that landlords and property owners still need to pay their mortgages and that the order can further damage their relationship with renters. Baltimore City residents have already been evicted during the pandemic, sometimes illegally.
“Unfortunately here in Baltimore, the deck is stacked against renters,” she said. “Our rights are violated, time and time again.”
The moratorium applies to tenants who earn no more than $99,000 a year, have sought government rental assistance and have made an effort to make partial rent payments.