The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday extended the federal mandate prohibiting landlords from evicting people unable to make rent payments. This will be the last time the moratorium is lengthened, CDC officials said.

After numerous extensions, the eviction ban was set to expire at the end of June. Now, millions of U.S. renters at risk of displacement due to the global pandemic have until July 31 to get their finances in order, according to a CDC order. After that, courts nationwide can move forward with eviction proceedings.

“Although this order is subject to revision based on the changing public health landscape, absent an unexpected change in the trajectory of the pandemic, CDC does not plan to extend the order further,” the order says.

The move provides a bit more breathing room for both renters who could face eviction proceedings once the ban is lifted and local governments and nonprofits that have been working to distribute rental assistance and other eviction prevention funds.

DeKalb County, whose $21 million Tenant-Landlord Assistance Coalition (TLAC) program fell victim to a cyberattack in March, for instance, has been playing catch-up. More time means more money to more people before the expected “tsunami” of evictions crashes. 

In August 2020, the nonprofit Legal Services Corporation (LSC) estimated more than 180,000 Georgians were at risk of eviction due to nonpayment of rent. LSC researchers believed it could cost more than $91 million to fight those evictions in court. 

It’s unclear how those numbers have shifted in nearly a year, although tallies of landlord-tenant cases stuck in legal limbo — awaiting the federal eviction ban’s ultimate expiration — paint part of the daunting picture. 

At the beginning of 2021, Judge Cassandra Kirk said nearly 11,000 landlord-tenant cases were pending in Fulton County’s magistrate court. 

In Cobb County, the magistrate court estimates 1,300 such cases are pending, according to county spokesman Ross Cavitt. 

Officials with Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties did not respond to requests for updates regarding the eviction filings, nor did those counties or the City of Atlanta address questions about their respective emergency housing assistance programs. 

Nevertheless, it seems that, despite government efforts to help people pay rent and utilities, an eviction wave is coming. However, the extra time afforded by the CDC could allow public agencies and nonprofits to at least lessen the blow.