On his first day in office, President Biden signed a number of executive orders, including one designed to prevent renters who have fallen behind on their payments due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic from being evicted from their homes.
The order, originally part of the CARES Act passed in the early days of the pandemic, was set to expire at the end of this month. Biden’s order asks the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to extend it until at least March 31.
It also takes some pressure off of homeowners who are behind on their mortgage payments. The order calls on housing agencies to continue their forbearance programs and their moratorium on foreclosures. The order applies only to federally backed home loans.
Additional aid for renters
In addition to that unilateral action, Biden has asked Congress to provide some additional aid to renters. His proposed American Rescue Plan would spend $25 billion for rent and utility assistance targeted to low and middle-income households impacted by the coronavirus.
Under the plan, households that lost income because of the pandemic could receive rental assistance for up to 12 months. About $5 billion would be earmarked to help pay overdue utility bills.
Zillow reported last week that renters are in special need of relief because they have borne the greatest burden during the pandemic. The real estate site notes that renters have suffered dramatic job losses because they tend to work in industries that have been most affected economically by the pandemic.
“There are financial wounds to heal from the three-month period when some renters were sending more than 80 percent of their unemployment benefits out the door on the first of the month,” said Chris Glynn, senior economist at Zillow.
Glynn says renters will need more than temporary eviction moratoriums and unemployment insurance to keep them in their homes long-term.
“Housing vulnerability for renters will be a top issue for the incoming administration," Glynn said.
Biden also signed an executive order on Wednesday giving student loan borrowers some additional breathing room. The order instructs the U.S. Department of Education to extend its current pause on student loan repayment until at least Sept. 30.