Bay Area residents are at risk for evictions as the moratorium ends

Isaac Coleman, Political Editor

As moratoriums come to an end, eleven million are homeless across the U.S.

More than 11 million people were put in jeopardy of losing their homes and being forced to live on the street as the Supreme Court struck down the federal eviction moratorium that kept people in their homes during the global pandemic.
The majority argument is that only an act of legislation can maintain the moratorium. While there was no author over the six-page majority opinion, the six conservative Supreme Court justices agreed that the CDC exceeded its authority even with the spread of the Delta variant.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer led the dissenting opinion. He argued the Court acted too hastily and must ensure the safety of the American people regardless of where the decision was made. It seems as if the dissenting opinion was more designed in the interest of the American people. “The public interest is not favored by the spread of disease or a court’s second-guessing of the C.D.C.’s judgment,” Justine Breyer argued.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said he will maintain the statewide eviction moratorium. The moratorium provides assistance to all California renters, even those who may still be waiting on state assistance for their rent. This provided a considerable amount of help considering in California only 5% of renters have been able to receive the funds necessary to pay rent.

The Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles (AAGLA), composed of landlords, attempted to overturn the statewide moratorium. The Federal District Court has upheld the moratorium. The decision allowed the moratorium to stay in effect only in California, protecting renters within the state.

AAGLA said they will continue appealing until the moratorium has been lifted. With the United States Supreme Court deciding that the moratorium needs to be legislated this could mean trouble for all renters within the state. Though there is debate of what should manage rental assistance: federal or state?

Derek Barnes, CEO of a landlord advocacy group, the East Bay rental association, said most do not think the state or city should manage rental assistance. City Council member and Oakland director of AACE, a rental advocacy program, Carroll Fife thanked the city for being in control and Oakland has fared better than most of the state.

Though, the end of the eviction moratorium may be a net positive for the real estate sector.

Dr. Christian Roessler, an economics professor at CSU East Bay who specializes in microeconomics, says that “as unwelcome as the ruling is for individual households, it is likely to boost the economy, and employment, because it increases the profitability of the real estate sector.”

This will likely allow landlords to collect higher rental income, which leads to more construction and more work for real estate agents who now have more homes to sell, he said. Dr. Roessler explained this decision “places the rule of law ahead of what’s expedient today – and that is one of the most important factors in countries’ long-term economic success.”

He doesn’t argue against the moratorium, but for Congress to be the final say so that there is more predictability within the market. Finally, “The Supreme Court’s decision is really a call on Congress to find bipartisan ways to keep people in their homes within our governance structures,” said Dr. Roessler. Let’s add in a transition sentence to the next quote, maybe something about how the economy still hasn’t bounced back as economists expected when unemployment ran out for many and states reopened.

“Growing an economy in overall financial terms, while leaving many of us behind without adequate housing, does not benefit us as a society,” stressing the fact that, “economies are people,” and this will have a disproportionate impact on struggling communities.

California renters have until Sept. 30 to keep their homes before facing eviction. There has been a concerted effort by AACE in Oakland and the East Bay to help those who need federal and state rental assistance.

With Gov. Newsom, the state will be able to maintain the moratorium and protect renters within the state, adding another issue to look out for when voting next week in the recall.