The Justice Department is urging the state’s top judges to find creative ways to stem a wave of tenant evictions as a national moratorium has expired and lawsuits are mounting against President Biden’s order to keep a modified ban in effect.
During a closed-door meeting Wednesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland met with 35 chief justices of the state’s supreme court on ways to limit the number of evictions, even as the nation’s housing crisis deepens and thousands of Tenants face the prospect of being thrown onto the streets in the coming weeks.
Mr. Garland commended the Michigan Supreme Court for giving tenants more time to apply for rental assistance by ordering the courts to suspend eviction proceedings for up to 45 days. He also applauded the Texas Supreme Court for helping tenants facing lawsuits by sending them notices with assistance options.
“Simple steps like these can increase the chances that tenants can stay in their homes and help courts that are inundated with eviction requests,” Garland said.
He said courts that want to add eviction diversion programs have access to billions of dollars in federal funding, including $ 350 billion from the American Rescue Plan and $ 46.5 billion from the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
The meeting comes after Biden and Congress allowed the eviction moratorium to expire earlier this month. The administration, under intense pressure from the Democratic left, has moved unilaterally to revamp it in order to prevent millions of tenants from being evicted.
Landlords have said that the loss of rental income from the COVID-19 economic downturn has become an increasingly heavy burden, especially as the US economy shows signs of recovery in many other sectors.
Unlike the previous blanket ban on evictions, Mr. Biden’s amended order applies only to “areas of great concern” facing a resurgence of COVID-19.
The Supreme Court refused to end the moratorium in June, noting that it would expire at the end of July. Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, however, cautioned that another extension would have to come from Congress, not the executive branch.