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Cleveland federal judge rules CDC exceeded their authority on moratoriums given to them by Congress

Cleveland federal judge rules CDC exceeded their authority on moratoriums given by Congress
Posted at 9:09 AM, Mar 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-11 12:08:52-05

CLEVELAND — This week federal U.S. District Judge J. Philip Calabrese ruled in a 31-page order that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, or the CDC, exceeded their statutory authority concerning the agency's nationwide moratorium on rental evictions.

The order stemmed from one of many lawsuits filed across the country on behalf of landlords who were struggling to make ends meet due to a lack of rent coming in from tenants.

The judge said while the agency did overstep its boundaries, given by Congress, "This case does not implicate broader policy considerations regarding such a moratorium or depend on judgments whether it constitutes sound public policy. On that issue, the Court expresses no opinion."

Judge Calabrese did not grant an injunction to stop the CDC from enforcing the moratorium, which is set to expire next month.

Now, some housing advocates fear this could interfere with efforts of keeping families in their homes.

"The fact that the moratorium was in existence gave some greater leverage to tenants in working with landlords to have the landlords accept late rent," said Steven McGarrity, the executive director of Community Legal Aid. "The CDC moratorium was a great tool that made it possible for people to stay in their homes if they weren't able to pay their rent while the whole country worked itself through the pandemic."

But with the end of the pandemic finally, in sight, McGarrity said now is not the time to fight against the eviction moratorium.

"We were just so close," he said.

Cheryl Stephens knows a thing or two about late rent. She's the president and CEO of non-profit East Akron Neighborhood Development Corporation. Last yea her agency formed a unique partnership with Legal Aid.

"The conversation just kept snowballing. We could do x, well could you do y? And that was helpful for everyone who came into contact with legal aid and with us," Stephens said.

Stephens said she's been working for months to raise funds to help her tenants pay their rent. So far they've raised about $100,000 to help more than 300 people stay in their homes. And while she runs a non-profit, most landlords are making money.

"We would encourage for profit or not to have some compassion for people who caught in the negative spiral of the pandemic. But if you don't know how to do it, reach out to the United Way. Reach out to your county development department. Those are ways to figure how to give you additional income by helping your tenants."