White House orders suspension of residential evictions

The White House is expectred to announce a new stay on evictions, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sept. 1, 2020. In this photo, Virginia residents protest in early July as a statewide eviction moratorum expired, (Photo by Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration announced on Tuesday it would temporarily halt residential evictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 infections.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin disclosed during a congressional hearing that the executive order would be issued. It runs through Dec. 31.

“I think you’ll be quite pleased with the impact that it will have,” Mnuchin told Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat who sits on the panel.

The order estimates that 30 to 40 million renters are at risk of eviction. “A wave of evictions on that scale would be unprecedented in modern times,” it says.

The move comes on the same day Iowa’s most populous county allocated $800,000 to prevent hundreds of evictions. Polk County has already seen 1,200 eviction cases filed through Iowa Legal Aid.

The halt was issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services.

It does not relieve people of obligations to pay rent or preclude the collection of fees, penalties or interest as the result of the failure to pay rent or make timely housing payments.

Congress passed a ban on evictions earlier this year, but it expired at the end of July.