Donald Trump's Executive Order Met With Criticism After Housing Groups Claim It 'Does Nothing' to Protect Tenants

President Donald Trump's executive order pledging to halt evictions amid the coronavirus pandemic will do "nothing" to prevent millions of Americans from losing their homes, further offering an "empty shell of promises to renters," according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. After eviction moratoriums provided by the first coronavirus relief package expired at the end of July, Trump has repeatedly promised his administration would halt evictions through an executive order signed on Aug. 8.

Tuesday, he reiterated, "We are stopping evictions. We're not going to let that happen ... We're not going to evict people ... We are not letting people be evicted." However, the executive order only directs federal agencies to "consider" if halting evictions are a necessary health precaution amid pandemic but does not prevent landlords from evicting tenants. The order also directs Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Housing Secretary Ben Carson to "identify any and all available funds" to support renters but does not provide any mechanism to deliver those funds.

This comes after the expiration of the federal moratorium on evictions passed in March by the CARES Act, which affected properties with federally backed mortgages and tenants receiving government housing assistance, which was estimated to affect 30 percent of all U.S. rental properties. The president's order does not reinstate this federal moratorium.

In a scorching statement from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a nonprofit which advocates for affordable housing, the organization said Trump's order "does nothing to prevent evictions and homelessness and acts only to mislead renters into believing that they are protected when they are not." It continued, calling the executive order "reckless and harmful," as it is "offering false hope and risking increased confusion and chaos at a time when renters need assurance that they will not be kicked out of their homes during a pandemic."

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By the end of the year, a study conducted by the nonprofit estimated that 30 million to 40 million renters are at risk of being evicted. The organization pleaded with the president to negotiate with Congress a national, uniform moratorium on all evictions for nonpayment of rent; at least $100 billion in emergency rental assistance through the Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act and housing vouchers; and $11.5 billion in emergency resources to help prevent and respond to outbreaks among people experiencing homelessness.

The organization's president, Diane Yentel, wrote, "Without a significant and sustained federal intervention, America will experience an increase in homelessness the likes of which we haven't seen since the Great Depression. Allowing tens of millions of people to lose their homes during a pandemic is cruel and senseless."