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• An eviction moratorium for properties linked to federal housing financing was included in the CARES Act, a major coronavirus relief bill. The moratorium expired in late July.
• Trump’s executive order doesn’t extend the moratorium. Instead, it takes a softer approach by telling executive branch officials to think about possible solutions to evictions during the coronavirus pandemic and its related economic downturn. The executive order also says nothing about any December deadline.
Some Facebook users jumped the gun on a series of executive actions signed by President Donald Trump after bipartisan negotiations on a new coronavirus relief bill ground to a halt.
One of the four orders Trump signed on Aug. 8 addressed eviction policy, an urgent matter given the coronavirus pandemic, which has prompted a severe economic downturn and caused many renters to lose their jobs. An eviction moratorium that had been included in the coronavirus relief bill known as the CARES Act expired on July 24 and has not yet been extended. Between 30 million and 40 million people could be at risk of eviction over the next few months without an extended moratorium, the National Low-Income Housing Coalition estimated.
The Aug. 8 Facebook post said lawmakers wasted time on negotiations when Trump was taking forceful actions.
Trump, the post said, "put a hold on ALL EVICTIONS through December." It went on to say that Trump "is for the people whether you like him or not. This executive order he just signed is going to save a lot of y’all asses."
But it is not accurate to say Trump extended eviction protections until December.
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
First, some background on the previous eviction moratorium from the CARES Act.
That law, which was passed with almost universal bipartisan support and was signed by Trump on March 27, 2020, provided a 120-day eviction moratorium for renters in specific categories. Those categories included renters who received federal housing assistance (such as by living in public housing or receiving federal financial assistance or tax credits), as well as renters who lived in properties in which the landlord’s mortgage is backed by the federal government, including the mortgage-bundling entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
However, the ban in the CARES Act expired on July 24, and to date, it has not been extended.
A different federal eviction moratorium is still in place, but it is set to end on Aug. 31. That one, imposed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, pauses mortgages and evictions for single-family homes that have mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Separately, renters may have protections under state or local policies.
Trump’s executive order falls well short of extending the moratorium from the CARES Act. Instead, it tells executive branch officials to think about possible solutions rather than formally imposing a moratorium. (The executive order also doesn’t mention extending anything "through December.")
Here are the key provisions of Trump’s order:
• It tells the Health and Human Services secretary and the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to "consider whether any measures temporarily halting residential evictions of any tenants for failure to pay rent are reasonably necessary."
• It tells the Treasury secretary and Housing and Urban Development secretary to identify federal funds that can be applied to "temporary financial assistance to renters and homeowners."
• It tells the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency to identify "resources that may be used to prevent evictions and foreclosures for renters and homeowners" caused by the pandemic. (As an independent agency, it’s unclear whether the president can order the agency to do anything.)
Unlike the CARES Act eviction ban, "the executive order does not ‘put a hold’ on evictions at all," said Andrew Scherer, the policy director of New York Law School’s Impact Center for Public Interest Law.
The Facebook post said that Trump "put a hold on ALL EVICTIONS through December."
That’s incorrect. The executive order tells executive branch officials to think about possible solutions, rather than formally imposing a moratorium, as the now-expired CARES Act language did, at least for properties with a linkage to federal housing finance. The executive order also says nothing about a December deadline.
We rate the statement False.
Facebook post, Aug. 8, 2020
Donald Trump, executive order, Aug. 8, 2020
National Low-Income Housing Coalition, "The COVID-19 Eviction Crisis: An Estimated 30-40 Milion People in America Are at Risk," Aug. 7, 2020
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "Extend CARES Act Eviction Moratorium, Combine With Rental Assistance to Promote Housing Stability," July 27, 2020
Federal Housing Finance Agency, "FHFA Extends Foreclosure and Eviction Moratorium," June 17, 2020
Wall Street Journal, "What’s in Trump’s Executive Actions on Coronavirus Aid—and What’s Not," Aug. 10, 2020
Washington Post, "Here’s what is actually in Trump’s four executive orders," Aug. 9, 2020
Email interview with Andrew Scherer, policy director of New York Law School’s Impact Center for Public Interest Law, Aug. 10, 2020
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