Evictions put on hold, student loan debt frozen due to executive order.
WASHINGTON DC – President Joe Biden has signed 30 new executive orders since he took office Wednesday. Two of them, aimed at providing COVID-19 relief to renters and students, will have an immediate impact on Virginians.
Biden Extends Eviction Moratoriums
The Legal Aid Justice Center says Virginia’s courts will hear 8,766 eviction hearings in the next eight weeks. Those residents got some relief Wednesday, as President Biden extended the federal eviction moratorium.
The CDC’s eviction moratorium was set to expire on December 31, 2020. Last month Congress passed another extension, this time until January 31. This latest action by Biden means the federal ban on evictions will continue through March 2021.
An eviction moratorium protects renters from being forcefully removed from their homes after not paying rent. In the months since the pandemic began, many renters across the nation are struggling to make their payments.
Public health and homelessness experts have noted that alternate housing like shelters have led to a significant increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths. People experiencing homelessness and living in shelters often don’t have access to basic anti-virus strategies. That includes things like frequent hand washing and practicing social distancing.
Approximately 14 million Americans are currently behind on their rent, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Virginia ranks among the lowest rated states when it comes to tenant rights. According to the Eviction Lab, the Commonwealth’s capital city of Richmond has the second highest eviction rate in the country.
Extending the moratorium gives renters more time to stay in their homes while the pandemic continues. Biden also plans to ask Congress to extend the moratorium into the fall of 2021.
Student Loan Freeze
Biden also directed the Department of Education to extend a pause on student loan payments through Sept. 30. The current pause, implemented last March, was scheduled to expire at the end of January.
Students in Virginia had $1.04 million in debt last year, according to a report by the Virginia Poverty Law Center. Almost half, or 41.3% of that debt, is outstanding. On average, students in Virginia owe about $83,040.
Biden Signs International Executive Orders
The flurry of new orders Biden signed will also undo a lot of former President Donald Trump’s controversial work.
For example, Biden signed orders that stopped construction on Trump’s promised border wall. He is also reversing the travel ban on majority-Muslim nations. Another order from Biden is reversing the travel ban on majority-Muslim nations.