(Source: The Eviction Lab)
(Source: The Eviction Lab)

President Joe Biden will sign an executive order today extending the national eviction moratorium to the end of March, according to the Washington Post and other media outlets.

The order, one of many planned in the first hours after Biden assumes office, will protect an estimated 30 million to 40 million renters nationwide. In Pennsylvania, up to 586,000 households, representing more than 1.3 million individuals, are at risk, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The current moratorium was set to expire at the end of December; Congress extended it an additional month, to the end of January, as part of the $900 billion Covid-19 rescue package.

Biden also will ask the federal agencies that deal with federally backed mortgages to extend their foreclosure moratorium to the end of March.

Housing advocates have said the eviction moratorium is not protecting all the renters it should, and should be not only extended but strengthened. Landlord groups have complained that rental moratoriums violate property rights and that the loss of revenue from nonpaying tenants is making it impossible to stay in business.

In Lancaster County, the Eviction Prevention Network, a coalition of housing nonprofits, has been working to help eligible tenants make good on their back rent. More than 500 households were assisted through the state's Rental Relief Program, with nearly $300,00 in county CARES Act funds supplementing $1.6 million from the state. (To apply for help from the Eviction Prevention Network, contact the United Way's 211 referral service.)

Last week, county Commissioner Josh Parsons said on social media that Lancaster County will take part in the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program, part of the $900 billion Covid-19 relief law. More information will be available once the federal government provides it and releases the funds, Parsons said.

Tim Stuhldreher