FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — A federal judge has struck down the national eviction moratorium, saying the CDC never had the authority to issue one.
Now millions of Americans are at risk of losing their homes, including families in Arkansas. The court has put a pause on the case as the Department of Justice appeals the decision. For at least the next four days, renters in Arkansas are safe from eviction.
“Whether or not I agree with the decision as being legally correct law, this is going to create a pretty bleak situation for a lot of American families that are behind on their rent,” said Kendall Lewellen, Managing Attorney at the Center for Arkansas Legal Services (CALS).
The national eviction moratorium was scheduled to end in June but on Wednesday, renters found out they might not have that much time to pay their back rent or get evicted.
“I think there are going to be a lot of very shocked people very soon,” Lewellen said.
Lewellen said the situation could change, but renters should use the next four days to prepare what to do next,
“People need to focus on any backup plans that they need to make for housing,” she said. “Reaching some sort of settlement with their landlord if at all possible, repayment plans, finding homeless shelters to go to or finding friends and family they might be able to stay with.”
Lewellen said she wants renters to know it takes more than a notice on a door to be evicted. A landlord must file a case in court and get permission from a judge to have the sheriff’s office remove the tenant.
Renters who are facing eviction can reach out to local social programs for rental assistance. They can also talk with an attorney for free. The helpline at CALS is 1-800-950-5817.
Arkansas Renters United has been advocating for renters, helping them avoid eviction during the moratorium. President Redona Harshaw released the following statement:
“The decision by Judge Dabney Friedrich to vacate the CDC eviction moratorium will cause irreparable harm to millions of households in the United States. It will take away needed housing assistance from millions of renters who were eligible and cause millions of people to become homeless or move into housing that is unsafe. While imperfect, the CDC moratorium did create a safety net for many tenants that kept them in their homes.
“we call on the Biden administration and Congress to take immediate action to reinstate and expand the moratorium on evictions to protect the 10-million people who are behind on their rent. The Biden administration must act now to provide long-term protections for renters for the duration of this crisis.”