By Sean Keenan

Once again, federal officials have cast a lifeline — albeit one with an expiration date — to Americans threatened by eviction amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it would extend a nationwide moratorium on residential evictions that was set to expire on Jan. 31. Tenants are now protected from being displaced “for failure to make rent or housing payments” until at least March 31, a CDC news release says. 

CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement that the COVID-19 pandemic “has presented a historic threat to our nation’s health” that has “exacerbated underlying issues of housing insecurity for many Americans.”

“Keeping people in their homes and out of congregate settings — like shelters — is a key step in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19,” she said. 

It’s important to note, though, that this moratorium doesn’t automatically shield households from displacement; would-be beneficiaries of the protections must show the CDC that they’ve pulled out all the stops to stabilize their respective housing situations. 

That means people at risk of being evicted must file a declaration form with the CDC and ensure their landlord gets a copy. 

Additionally, these benefits aren’t available to individuals making $99,000 a year or more or households who file taxes jointly who earn upwards of $198,000 annually. 

The CDC’s order also requires people to use “best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing,” and they must be able to prove that being evicted would make them homeless or force them to “double up” with family or friends. 

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