The White House allowed a federal eviction moratorium to expire Saturday, urging Congress to take legislative action to keep it going and pushing for the distribution of billions of dollars of relief to help those who could now face being pushed out of their homes.
Democrats were dismayed by President Biden's decision not to challenge the Supreme Court's June ruling that the moratorium had to end after July, leaving lawmakers scrambling to draft a bill following the president's Thursday announcement that he would not try to extend it.
"We are only hours away from a fully preventable housing crisis," Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said Saturday from the Senate floor.
"We have the tools and we have the funding," Warren continued. "What we need is the time."
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., rushed to draft a bill that would have extended the moratorium through the end of 2021, but Republicans opposed the hasty action.
"This is not the way to legislate," Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., said.
The moratorium was put in place in September 2020 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its end means that landlords will be able to force out tenants who have been unable to pay their rent during a time when the coronavirus pandemic led to industries being shut down and jobs being lost.
As of last month, approximately 7 million households were not caught up on rent payments, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which raised concerns about a surge in evictions that may occur when the policy is lifted.
"August is going to be a rough month because a lot of people will be displaced from their homes," said Jeffrey Hearne, director of litigation at Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. said, according to The Associated Press. "It will be at numbers we haven’t seen before. There are a lot of people who are protected by the ... moratorium."
The Biden administration is counting on federally allocated money Congress designated for rental assistance to help, but only about $3 billion out of $25 billion had been disbursed through June. States like New York have hardly distributed anything.
The White House is urging states and localities to "urgently accelerate their efforts" to disburse funds through the American Rescue Plan.
"With some cities and states demonstrating their ability to release these funds efficiently to tenants and landlords in need, there can be no excuse for any state or locality not to promptly deploy the resources that Congress appropriated to meet this critical need of so many Americans," Psaki said.
Some Democratic lawmakers are blaming Biden for waiting so long to let them know that he was expecting them to act.
"I quite frankly wish he had asked us sooner," Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said Friday.
Fox News' Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.