HOUSTON - On his first day in office, President Biden took steps to help people hurting in this economic crisis.
In addition to pushing Congress to pass his $1.9 billion relief package with $1,400 stimulus checks, President Biden signed executive orders today to extend the pause on student loan payments through September and extend the eviction moratorium through March.
Extending the eviction moratorium is aimed at keeping millions of renters struggling to pay rent in their homes.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition says extending the moratorium is good, but it needs to be fixed. She suggests it should be made automatic to stop all evictions for non-payment of rent during the pandemic.
"Seniors without access to the internet, immigrants for whom English is not their first language, other marginalized people may not know about the protections or not know what steps they need to take," said Diane Yentel, President of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
Princeton University's Eviction Lab found courts have approved tens of thousands of evictions nationwide, including 90% of evictions in Houston, despite the moratorium.
"There are some areas in the moratorium that are vague enough to allow landlords, judges, and courts to find loopholes and allow for evictions to proceed," said Yentel.
Landlords say after a year of state, local, and national moratoriums, the lack of rent has caused many of them to fall behind on paying their mortgages.
"When we don't get rent coming in, mortgage doesn't get paid, utilities don't get paid, staff doesn't get paid. Then it puts the entire community in danger instead of just those delinquent residents," said John Boriack, President of the Houston Apartment Association.
Both sides agree more rental assistance is needed.
"When you help the renter, you help the housing provider. We're tied into the same ecosystem. Everybody wants everybody to prosper and do well," said Boriack.
"Congress did provide $25 billion in emergency rental assistance in the last COVID Relief package," said Yentel. "And President Biden is urging, and we're certainly supporting, an additional $30 billion in emergency rental assistance."
Biden has also called on Congress to extend the eviction and foreclosure moratorium through September.