Trump’s Eviction Executive Order Is a Massive Nothing Burger

I will be going over Trump’s executive order on, “fighting the spread of COVID-19 by providing assistance to renters and homeowners. 

I’m going to go through Trump’s executive order about evictions, but that’s a bit misleading because, well, you’ll see why.

This is not an eviction moratorium in the least like we had under the CARES Act. It’s just not.

This thing doesn’t actually prevent any evictions or foreclosures whatsoever.

It’s completely toothless. All bark, not even much of a bark, but just bark, no bite.  Just suggestions to various federal agencies.

The executive order begins by talking about COVID-19, because everything the president did yesterday had to be linked on paper to COVID-19, that’s where there’s this awkward language in here going on and on about COVID-19.

Well, what if there’s no COVID-19 around you in your area, does this apply, I don’t know, but it doesn’t really matter anyway because this executive order doesn’t really do anything anyway.

Anyway the executive order starts with how unemployment may lead to homelessness and how homeless shelters are particularly susceptible to the spread of COVID-19 since they’re crowded and social distancing can be difficult.

Then it mentions the CARES Act moratorium that has now expired, and the executive order notes that as a result of the eviction moratorium, “there is a significant risk that this will set off an abnormally large wave of evictions.”

Then it says, “Accordingly, my Administration, to the extent reasonably necessary to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, will take all lawful measures to prevent residential evictions and foreclosures resulting from financial hardships caused by COVID-19.”

The Meat of Trump’s Executive Order

The meat of this thing is in Section 3, in four paragraphs, a, b, c, and, d, and you’re going to see that there’s not a lot of meat on this bone, I’m going to walk through each paragraph, first paragraph,

Paragraph A

“The Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Director of CDC shall consider whether any measures temporarily halting residential evictions of any tenants for failure to pay rent are reasonably necessary to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 from one State or possession into any other State or possession.”

So this literally does nothing for the people. Literally.

All it says is that the Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC should consider whether halting evictions would be a good thing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

That’s it. It just says, think about it, HHS, CDC, just think about it.

Nothing in this language in paragraph A actually stops evictions or does anything for anybody.

Paragraph B

“The Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development shall identify any and all available Federal funds to provide temporary financial assistance to renters and homeowners who, as a result of the financial hardships caused by COVID-19, are struggling to meet their monthly rental or mortgage obligations.”

All this says is that Treasury and HUD look for money to provide financial assistance to renters and homeowners who have hardships right now. That’s it.

It doesn’t say that they will get any assistance. It says, “yeah, the feds will look for money, stay tuned for that.”

Again, no eviction moratorium whatsoever, no assistance for renters and homeowners. So it kinda looks like we’re crafting a big ol’ nothing burger here, but let’s keep going.

Paragraph C

“The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development shall take action, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, to promote the ability of renters and homeowners to avoid eviction or foreclosure resulting from financial hardships caused by COVID-19.”

Such action may include encouraging and providing assistance to public housing authorities, affordable housing owners, landlords, and recipients of Federal grant funds in minimizing evictions and foreclosures.

Now, at least this paragraph talks about some kind of action. It says HUD should take action to keep people from being evicted or foreclosed on.

But other than offering some suggestions, it doesn’t say specifically what should be done, for how long, and to whom, and how it will be paid for.

This doesn’t help anybody. It’s just words on a page.

Paragraph D

“In consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, the Director of FHFA shall review all existing authorities and resources that may be used to prevent evictions and foreclosures for renters and homeowners resulting from hardships caused by COVID-19.”

Again, to top off the nothing burger, this is just saying that the Federal Housing Finance Agency review resources to prevent evictions and foreclosures.

That’s it.

There is literally nothing in this executive order that does anything other than to make suggestions and give hope.

Sure, HUD might take this and do something practical to help people with it, sure Treasury might open the books and move some money and find some money to help people, but this piece of paper alone, this executive order, doesn’t actually do anything specific, for specific people, in a specific amount, for a specific length of time.

All it does is say, “OK, we’ll look into it.”

Now this is funny because when it comes to legal authority, actually coming out and extending the eviction moratorium, not very many people disagreed that Trump had the authority to actually extend the CARES Act like eviction moratorium.

So why didn’t he?

Simple. Although Trump could have extended the eviction moratorium, he doesn’t know where to get the money to help the renters who will eventually owe that money or the landlords who could perhaps not have rent coming in but can’t kick the tenants out even though they’re not paying.

That’s why he didn’t do it.

Because he could extend the moratorium, but he couldn’t actually assist people. Where’s the funds to do it?

It’s still in Treasury, he couldn’t find the funds to maybe help people. Right. That’s why he didn’t do it right off the bat.

So we’ll see what happens. Maybe HUD and Treasury will pull through for us, and I’ll let you know if they do.

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