The Biden administration just extended the moratorium on evictions until October (first implemented by the Trump administration). And yet when I look at the economic data, it’s hard for me to understand the motivation for this policy. What emergency requires such an extreme infringement on property right?
Personal incomes have been pretty high throughout the pandemic, so that doesn’t seem to be the issue. There really was a severe unemployment problem last year, but now the unemployment rate is down to 5.4%, which is below average for the past 50 years:
Yes, 5.4% is far from ideal (3.5% would be better), but since when is below average unemployment the criterion for emergency legislation that disrupts the normal functioning of the rental market? It’s not like 2009, when jobs were extremely difficult to find.
Indeed we see lots of other government programs that might have made sense in 2020 but make no sense at all today, such as the supplemental unemployment insurance program. The child tax credit might make sense as a permanent program (there are good arguments both ways), but I fail to see any argument for it as a temporary program. What’s the purpose?
It might be argued that the eviction moratorium is aimed at slowing the spread of Covid. But how would it do this? It’s not as if the people who avoid eviction are self-quarantining at home.
Many of the Covid restrictions that might have made sense before the vaccine was widely available no longer make any sense at all. If we aren’t going to get back to normal now, when will we ever be ready to do so? It’s not like there won’t always be people losing jobs. It’s not as if Covid will magically go away.
Full disclosure: I used to be a landlord (one of the worst decisions I ever made.) In my case, my tenants were often as well off as I was.