The eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) during the COVID-19 pandemic is not legit, according to a federal judge's ruling on Wednesday in Washington.
"The question for the Court is a narrow one: Does the Public Health Service Act grant the CDC the legal authority to impose a nationwide eviction moratorium? It does not," Judge Dabney Friedrich wrote in her opinion.
The moratorium was first issued last year as the coronavirus pandemic roiled the U.S. economy and prompted massive layoffs that hit lower-income Americans especially hard, those who were most likely renters.
"The Court recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic is a serious public health crisis that has presented unprecedented challenges for public health officials and the nation as a whole. The pandemic has triggered difficult policy decisions that have had enormous real-world consequences," Friedrich wrote. "The nationwide eviction moratorium is one such decision."
'DOJ should immediately appeal the flawed ruling'
The federal moratorium was set to expire on June 30, but it's unclear what comes next. The CDC referred Yahoo Money's request for comment to the Justice Department, which is appealing a similar ruling in Texas.
The eviction moratorium has faced multiple legal challenges with courts ruling both in favor of the CDC and in favor of landlords, according to Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a housing advocacy group.
"While this latest ruling is written more starkly than previous ones, it likely has equally limited application impacting only the plaintiffs who brought the case or, at most, renters in the district court’s jurisdiction," Yentel told Yahoo Money. "The DOJ should immediately appeal the flawed ruling and the Biden administration should continue to vigorously defend and enforce the moratorium, at least until emergency rental assistance provided by Congress reaches the renters who need it to remain stably housed."
Several studies have showed the eviction moratoriums on the state and local level helped to combat the spread of COVID-19 spread.
One study found that policies limiting evictions during the pandemic reduced COVID-19 deaths by 11% and infections by 8% in the U.S. from March through November last year. Had those moratoriums been implemented in every county in the U.S., infections would have been cut by 14.2% and deaths by 40.7% during that time, the study found.
Similarly, the expiration of state eviction protections led to 433,700 additional coronavirus cases and 10,700 excess deaths from March to September, according to another study.