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SCOTUS Ended The Eviction Ban. Now Millions Have To Figure Out Housing — Fast

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

More than 8 million Americans are behind on their rent, and the Supreme Court has just struck down a federal eviction moratorium that was protecting many of them. Now it's a race against the clock. Billions of dollars from Congress to help renters is not reaching the people who need it. We're joined now by NPR's Chris Arnold, who is following this.

Hey there, Chris.

CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: Hey, Mary Louise.

KELLY: Why did the Supreme Court strike down the moratorium?

ARNOLD: Well, the majority ruling was pretty vivid in its language, saying that at this point, the CDC's overreach here was, quote, "breathtaking" - was the word that they used. And, you know, the moratorium had been extended several times. And the majority asked rhetorically, like, well, you know, could the CDC force manufacturers to give laptops to everybody to work from home - sort of, you know, where does this end, what's next sort of thing.

The three liberal justices in the minority disagreed. They said basically, look, you know, the Delta variant is raging. Their quote - a quote from them was that "the public interest strongly favors respecting the CDC's judgment." But the court overall ruled that unless Congress steps in and votes to reinstate this, which they recently did not have the votes to do, this moratorium is over.

KELLY: So where does this leave people? Will a lot of people start getting evicted right away?

ARNOLD: Yes, some will. There are many thousands of people who already have eviction cases filed against them that are in the final stage. So unless you're in a state or a county with its own eviction ban, and many of those have been expiring, this removes the last barrier to a lot of those people being put out of their homes. And in coming weeks and months, there are going to be a lot more eviction cases that could be filed if that federal rental assistance money does not reach the people who need it in time.

KELLY: Well, tell us a story or two. What are you hearing from people behind on their rent right now?

ARNOLD: Well, I talked today to Carly Holloway. She's a cake decorator in Naugatuck, Conn., and her husband lost his job during the pandemic. They've been trying to catch up. They're five months behind on the rent, and she says they just don't have another place that they can go live.

CARLY HOLLOWAY: One of the things that kept us going was we knew that there was something in place protecting us through this hardship. And now that that's ended, you know, it's terrifying, flat-out terrifying.

ARNOLD: Holloway says she's applied for that federal rental assistance money, but right now she's stuck waiting for approval. So she's hoping that her landlord waits and sees that through and doesn't just decide to evict them. The couple also has two young kids. Her daughter's 10, so can't get vaccinated yet.

HOLLOWAY: I don't want her to ever have to live through an eviction, you know? That's traumatizing for a child, to be uprooted from their home. And, you know, American children are facing that right now. There's just going to be a lot of unnecessary trauma on people that are just trying to get by.

ARNOLD: And Holloway, too, has sympathy for her landlord actually. She says he's just, like, a regular guy. He's not a big company. And he seems to be pretty stressed out, too, about paying his bills because of all this.

KELLY: Yeah. Well, stay with the landlords for a second. What are they saying about this latest news?

ARNOLD: Well, landlords have been arguing that, look, the time has come for them to get their property rights back. And they say the most crucial thing to focus on now is to move quickly to fix problems with distributing that roughly $50 billion in federal money for rental assistance that came from Congress. Only about 10% of that money has reached renters and landlords. It's slowed from the federal government to states and counties and cities. There are 500 different programs. Some are doing a good job. They've gotten more than half the first round of money out the door. Others are a disaster. Like, less than 5% of the money's gotten out. Now it's zero hour and those just have to start working better or a lot of people are going to get evicted and lose their homes.

KELLY: NPR's Chris Arnold.

Thank you, Chris.

ARNOLD: Thanks, Mary Louise. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.