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Millions of renters and landlords across the country are living in limbo amid a flurry of legal challenges to the Biden administration’s new federal eviction ban. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge joins Yamiche Alcindor to discuss.
Millions of renters and landlords across the country are living in limbo because of a flurry of legal challenges to the Biden administration's new federal ban on evictions.
Yamiche Alcindor takes a deeper look at what the administration is doing to address this growing housing insecurity in the U.S.
We examine the administration's plans to address evictions and economic challenges during the pandemic with Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge.
Thank you so much, Secretary Fudge, for being here.
Now, the Biden administration allowed the federal eviction moratorium ban to expire when Congress did not pass anything to extend it. What do you say to critics who say that the White House did not act fast enough here?
Well, first off, thanks for having me.
I would say that the White House acted in a very deliberate way. I think that there were a lot of things that went into making this decision. And certainly one was to determine where we were as it related to the CDC and what was happening with the variant. I think that they did act timely. Certainly people do believe it should have been earlier, but I think that they acted with the kind of reason and just good consciousness of what was going on in the country. So I think that they did just fine with that.
And the new federal ban on eviction moratorium, it's more limited. It also expires on October 3rd. Do you worry at all that this is sort of a cliff that's coming toward renters now that there's this October 3rd deadline?
No, Yamiche, I don't think that I'm as worried as I would have been. I do not believe, actually, that there should be a cliff. If we can get out the $46 billion that is already in the pipeline, I do not believe that we should hit a cliff. There is enough resources right there that we can actually make up all arrearages as well as pay some rent forward.
So I don't think there should be a cliff. I think that right now people are getting the resources out the way they should. Everybody is up and running. And I do believe that this additional time is going to make sure that we push it through. So I'm not as worried as I would have been had we not extended it.
and you said you're not as worried and that you say that that you think the White House acted timely. But of course, there are critics who say that this is a sort of a coming cliff for renters and that the White House in some ways dropped the ball here. What do you make of that?
Well, I would say that it's easy for people to throw stones when they don't really have to make decisions. This was a big decision. And so I do think that they did act, at least in my view, in the way I think about it, very responsibly.
And for those who want to throw stones — I mean, there's nothing that I could do about it except for to say I am very supportive of the decision they made and within the timeframe in which they made it.
And there are landlord groups now that are challenging this new eviction ban in court. A judge just today said that this new, more limited ban looks almost identical to the one that the CDC passed that was expired. The president has said that he thinks that he's not sure that this new ban will pass constitutional muster. What happens if this new eviction moratorium is struck down in court?
At this point? All I can say is that it is really up to the courts. I am not of the opinion that the White House made a decision that they did not believe was legal. And so I believe, as does the president, that this will pass constitutional muster. And if for some reason it does not, then we'll deal with it at that time. But that's a decision for the courts to make and not us. But I think that they did the right thing.
We're also hearing from landlords, some of them, who say they could be homeless if they don't get rental payments. What do you — what's your message to landlords who say they are financially struggling and that they might not be able to pay their bills if they don't get the rent from tenants?
I would say the landlords, they should be supporting what we're doing because the money is going to landlords. The money is there to make sure that they are brought up to date, that we assist them in any way we can. So they should be supportive because they are the ones getting the money.
So don't take $46 billion out of the queue that you can have to bring you up to speed. I do know that it has been difficult and has been challenging for people who may not have been paid their rent over a long period of time, but this is the opportunity to get paid back. And so I would be hopeful that they would want to keep people in their homes.
Black people and people of color have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and have faced dire economic struggles. What's your plan to address the widening gap in black homeownership and generational wealth that has deepened in the pandemic?
I'm so glad you asked me about that, Yamiche, because you have to think about it. This didn't just start with the pandemic. People of color, black people, brown people of low income people have been living with this for a very, very long time. This didn't just start. But the good thing about this administration is that the president has asked for us to look through everything through a lens of equity.
So some of the things that we are doing is assisting those who have FHA mortgages. We've already extended the eviction moratorium or foreclosure moratorium to them we are assisting with modifying mortgages. We are talking to mortgage servicers.
We are doing all of the things that we know we can do as an agency to make sure that people stay in their homes. We've talked. With our landlords about how they can avoid foreclosure, we are talking with courts about how we can assist with keeping people in their homes once they are put into the process of eviction. So we are doing all we can, but this is not new.
Twenty-five percent of black renters today believe that they they're already behind on their rent. But this is not new. Again, I keep saying it. It is not — it is what we live with every day.
It is — we are the people who bear the brunt of this entire crisis. We are the front line workers. You know, we are the essential workers. We are people who live in dense communities. This is something that is not new.
There are also a lot of temporary fixes right now. You look at the eviction moratorium. You look at enhanced unemployment benefit. You look at student loan repayment pauses.
Are you worried that this could be a house of cards that could fall afoul? And are you worried about what could happen once these temporary fixes go away?
Well, I'm certain — certainly, you worry about it, but I am not nearly as concerned as I would be if we were not doing all the things we're doing and the White House was not doing all the things they are doing.
I do believe that all of this is going to work out at some point, and I do think it's going to happen soon. If you look at the numbers of people who are being helped over the last few months, it has been going up exponentially every single month, over a billion and a half people just in the month of June, July numbers are going to be better. August numbers are going to be better.
And we believe that we can avert the crisis that everybody sees as looming if we do the work that we are all doing right now.
An important conversation. Thank you so much, Secretary Fudge.
Thank you for having me.
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