HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Public Health Amici Curiae Brief in Support of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Eviction Moratorium

Emily A. Benfer (Wake Forest University), J.L. Pottenger (Yale University), Richard Tenenbaum (Yale University), Wingo Smith, Emilia Todd (Wake Forest University), Salvatore Minopoli (Yale University), Patrick Monaghan (Yale University), Jacqui Oesterblad (Yale University), Evan Walker-Wells (Yale University), Logan Wren (Yale University), Public Health Amici Curiae Brief in Support of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Eviction Moratorium, SSRN:

Eviction moratoriums help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Millions of Americans entered the COVID-19 pandemic vulnerable to eviction due to a preexisting affordable housing crisis. The economic recession and widespread job loss resulting from the pandemic increased hardship among renters, who often lack savings to cover expenses during an emergency. COVID-19-related job and wage loss left millions unable to afford rent. This has created an unprecedented eviction crisis that disproportionately affects low-income populations and communities of color and increases COVID-19 infection and mortality. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) issued an agency order (“CDC Order”) to pre-vent evictions from spreading COVID-19 and worsening public health. Evidence suggests that eviction moratoriums effectively slow the spread of COVID-19. Without these moratoriums, evictions will likely increase to unseen heights, facilitating the transmission of infectious diseases, including COVID-19. Preliminary research and modeling demonstrate that eviction is associated with in-creased COVID-19 infection and mortality rates. The consequences of eviction (such as overcrowding, homelessness, and housing instability) increase contact with others and hinder compliance with the key strategies to contain COVID-19, including social distancing, self-quarantining, and hand hygiene. The people most at risk of eviction are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Low-income populations are often exposed to social determinants of poor health and have chronic illness or disability and, as such, are at risk of serious complications or death when they contract COVID-19. People of color are more likely to have lost jobs, face eviction, contract COVID-19, lack access to healthcare, and fall severely ill with the virus. Protecting public health during this pandemic re-quires protecting those most likely to contract, spread, and die from COVID-19. These deleterious health impacts and the spread of COVID-19 are tied to the act of eviction itself and are likely quite preventable if eviction is halted under the CDC’s moratorium. The brief was prepared by Emily A. Benfer, the Yale Law School Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization, and the Southern Poverty Law Center in consultation with Yale School of Public Health faculty and with the aid of legal interns at the Wake Forest University School of Law and Yale Law School.

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