President Donald Trump signed a new executive order on Tuesday, halting evictions during the coronavirus pandemic through the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Trump gave this broad power to the CDC, tasking it with preventing landlords from evicting tenants even if they would generally have the legal right. The order also provides some assistance to both tenants and property owners.
"I want to make it unmistakably clear that I'm protecting people from evictions," Trump said in a statement on Tuesday, according to a report by NBC News. This measure will replace the eviction moratorium that was included in the CARES Act back in March, which expired in July. This is one of the critical issues in the second stimulus check, which has been trapped in limbo in the U.S. Congress since May. The Trump administration official claimed that this executive order goes further than the CARES Act did in this regard.
"To prevent evictions that could exacerbate the spread of this pandemic, Americans need a place to be able to quarantine or isolate," they said. "Evictions undermine that objective."
Still, this new order comes with its own technicalities and loopholes. It covers only people who are eligible to receive a stimulus check — meaning, individuals with a gross annual income of $99,000 or less, couples who make $198,000 or less, or heads of households that make $146,500 or less.
These eligibility rules leave out plenty of Americans, including immigrants without Social Security numbers, adult dependents such as college students or seniors, and high-earners who have lost their jobs in the recession. The order also requires anyone seeking its protection to provide proof that the coronavirus pandemic has specifically caused them financial hardship and that they have made an effort to seek other forms of rental assistance.
Finally, applicants must somehow prove that they would likely become homeless if they were evicted, or that they would have to move into crowded housing with a high risk of COVID-19 infection. After all that, anyone approved for the protection is still obligated to pay the rent they owe eventually, depending on their lease or contract.
While many struggling tenants celebrated Trump's new executive order as at least being something, other lawmakers would like to go even further. Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar has been pushing a plan to cancel all housing payments during the pandemic, directing stimulus funds to cover the costs. However, with all stimulus package negotiations at a bitter stalemate, there is no telling if or when anything might pass.