ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
More than 8 million American households are behind on their rent, and a federal order protecting renters from eviction was set to expire in just two days. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today extended those protections for three more months through the end of June. NPR's Chris Arnold is with us for more details.
CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: Hey, Ari.
SHAPIRO: Eight million households behind on their rent is a huge number. Any idea how many were close to being evicted?
ARNOLD: Yeah. Well, you know, it is a huge number, and it's hard to say exactly. But The Eviction Lab at Princeton University has been tracking this. They think that the CDC order is stopping at least a million evictions. And it could be more. I talked to Mehran Mossaddad. He's in Atlanta. He's a single dad. He's got a 10-year-old daughter. And he's way behind on rent. And he's just been very worried this past week that that this CDC order was about to expire.
MEHRAN MOSSADDAD: Especially last few days have been very scary. I can't sleep. I've got the shakes. I was going to call my doctor today because I get panic attacks not knowing what's in store for us. I have to take care of her, my daughter.
ARNOLD: And he's had to be home taking care of her because she's doing remote schooling, and that's making working hard. He drives Uber. And it's just been very hard to make money. So he's fallen behind on rent, and his landlord filed an eviction case. The CDC order put that eviction case on hold, which is why he's been so worried that with this about to expire, he just didn't want to end up homeless with his kid.
SHAPIRO: So what did he tell you about the CDC's decision to extend the eviction order?
ARNOLD: Well, his landlord has been complying with the CDC order and not trying to get around it or throw him out in the street some other way. So the CDC extension is giving him a break, right? I mean, and he's feeling relief from this intense panic. And he's getting another few months here.
MOSSADDAD: It is a relief. So I do believe in miracles. I'm like, well, something ought to happen. Something to happen. We'll be - we've done nothing wrong.
ARNOLD: And you could probably hear that Mossaddad feels like he still needs a little bit more of a miracle than just three more months because, I mean, he owes a year's worth of back rent. That's a lot of money. He's heard that there's federal money coming for rental assistance. He's not sure how that's going to work. He can't get through the portals to apply yet. But this will give him time to try to try to get that help.
SHAPIRO: Yeah, tell us about that because even extending the eviction moratorium for three months doesn't wipe out the debt that people owe, right?
ARNOLD: Yeah, and now - but Congress has a sizable amount of money approved now, $50 billion in rental assistance. The thing is that is just starting to flow. The portals have just been opening up. And the vast majority of people just need more time to get that help.
SHAPIRO: Landlords also have bills to pay. What does it mean for them that they might not be getting rent for the next few months?
ARNOLD: Well, landlord groups are not so happy today. They say landlords need to have control of their properties. They say moratoriums let people just stay on their place and rack up bigger and bigger debts. And that hurts them, and it hurts the landlords. But the housing groups say, well, OK, maybe, but this is a pandemic. And kicking people out during a pandemic spreads COVID. That's why the CDC did this in the first place. And, you know, so they actually wanted the order not just extended but actually strengthened because it has loopholes. And they say, look. Thousands - there's thousands of cases of landlords already who are using those loopholes to evict people.
SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Chris Arnold.
ARNOLD: Thanks, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.