Advocacy Corner, Issue 4 of 2021, March 4, 2021

From the Desk of Brian Fuss
Policy & Program Director

Welcome, Friends.

The U.S. House of Representatives, mostly along party lines, passed the American Rescue Plan on Saturday, February 27, 2021. The bill is now in the U.S. Senate.

A federal judge of the Eastern District of Texas ruled the CDC Moratorium unconstitutional on February 25, 2021.  The Department of Justice has appealed the decision, and that the opinion applies only to the plaintiffs in the case.  The CDC eviction moratorium is still in effect.

Locally, reporters from the Standard-Speaker explained that hundreds of Lackawanna and Luzerne county renters face evictions despite the national moratorium.

Have a great week,   

PS: If there is some local legislation you believe the Housing Alliance should follow, please let Brian know.  

National Updates

The Housing Alliance of PA follows the progress of the American Rescue Plan, the unconstitutionality of the CDC Eviction Moratorium, and the $1B from the Federal Housing Finance Agency to affordable housing programs.

The American Rescue Plan (H.R. 1319) passed the U.S. House of Representatives on February 27, 2021 by a vote of 219-212. The bill is in the U.S. Senate where it is expected to pass with some changes. The minimum wage provision will most likely be stricken from the bill since the Senate Parliamentarian decided that this provision violates the budget reconciliation rules.

On February 25, 2021, Judge Barker of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas ruled that the national CDC Eviction Moratorium was unconstitutional. However, since the lawsuit was not a class action suit, Judge Barker’s ruling is limited to the plaintiffs in the case. Judge Barker stated, in his opinion, that Congress exceeded their authority with the nationwide eviction moratorium as it intruded on the rights of landlords under state law. Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Boynton filed an appeal. The CDC Eviction Moratorium is still in place.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency director announced an unprecedented $1 billion disbursement to the U.S. Housing Trust Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund. Both of these federal programs provide much-needed funds to build and preserve affordable housing units. In the Commonwealth, there are only 38 affordable housing units for every 100 low-income renters.

Commonwealth Update

The House continues to have budget hearings and the Senate will start budget hearings this month.

Morgan-Besecker and Halpin, staff writers at the Standard-Speaker newspaper, reported that evictions continue in some of the Commonwealth’s counties. In Luzerne and Lackawanna counties, hundreds of renters have evictions filed against them for nonpayment. In Wilkes-Barre, Kingston, and Nanticoke, overdue rent totals nearly $450,000. As soon as the eviction moratorium is lifted, on March 31, 2021, advocates predict the eviction filings will increase by large numbers leaving thousands of people without stable housing. Both Lackawanna and Luzerne counties received federal funds for emergency rental assistance, which should start soon along with the statewide program developed by Act 1 (P.L. 1, No. 1).