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Thousands of tenants across Minnesota may suffer major COVID-19-related setbacks due to loss of their housing if Minnesota Governor Tim Walz’s (D-Minn.) Executive Order 20-79 is struck down.

The order, which suspends evictions and lease termination notices, has come under attack even as it has had positive impact on families by preserving rights to fair housing and strengthening tenant rights. The national Lawyers’ Committee and its Anti-Eviction Project, and several Minnesota fair housing groups filed an amicus brief Monday upholding the eviction moratorium that would protect tenants from homelessness during the pandemic.

Housing instability during the COVID-19 pandemic is rampant and must be halted immediately, especially instability caused by landlords who are determined to evict lawful tenants while ignoring state and federal laws against such measures.

“The Minnesota and national CDC moratorium are essential to our efforts to protect under-resourced communities from unlawful evictions during a pandemic,” said Lawrence McDonough, senior Minnesota fellow with the National Anti-Eviction Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law 

In March 2020, Gov. Walz issued Executive Order 20-79 which banned most evictions, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) joined in banning most evictions across the country in September 2020.

“Both moratoria are proven to be successful in reducing evictions of people and communities that face disproportionate side-effects from pandemic closures,” McDonough continued. “They have therefore been effective in preventing the additional spread of COVID-19 across the nation.”

Eviction moratoria facilitate self-isolation for people who face risk of severe illness from COVID-19 due to an underlying medical condition. These policies further allow state and local governments to easily implement stay-at-home and social distancing directives that mitigate the community spread of COVID-19.  

One in five renters across the nation are struggling to maintain housing payments amid the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. Census Bureau additionally estimates that nearly 7 million Americans are still behind on rent. Without the moratorium in place, many families will face evictions that could have otherwise been avoidedDuring the worst pandemic in a century, no family should worry about whether they will have a roof over their head.   

Read the brief here