An eviction moratorium, mask mandate, and student loan pause can help bolster local economies and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
President Joe Biden and his administration hit the ground running, signing nearly 30 executive orders in his first two days in office.
The flurry of new legislation will undo a lot of former President Donald Trump’s controversial work. For example, Biden signed orders that stopped construction on Trump’s promised border wall, reversed the travel ban on majority Muslim nations, and nullified a Trump order to exclude noncitizens from the census.
Some of the executive orders Biden signed will have a quick impact in communities throughout the country. Here’s a look at three orders that could change life for the better in your hometown.
One of the first things Biden signed into action is an extension on the federal ban on evictions through March 2021. An eviction moratorium protects renters from being forcefully removed from their homes after not paying rent. In the months since the pandemic began, hundreds of thousands of renters across the nation have struggled to make their rent payments due to job losses and a crippled economy.
The current eviction moratorium was scheduled to expire at the end of January, which would have forced many renters to find alternate housing. Public health and homelessness experts have also noted that alternate housing like shelters have led to a significant increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths. People experiencing homelessness and living in shelters often don’t have access to basic strategies that slow the spread of the coronavirus like frequent hand washing and access to space that is socially distanced.
Approximately 14 million Americans are currently behind on their rent, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. [ENTER STATE LEVEL INFO HERE]
Extending the moratorium gives renters more time to stay in their homes while the United States continues to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Biden also plans to ask Congress to extend the moratorium into the fall of 2021.
Research shows that wearing a mask and other measures, like social distancing, can make a real difference in the spread of COVID-19. In his first hours in office, Biden implemented a mask mandate for all federal grounds and signed an order requiring masks in airports, planes, trains, and intercity buses.
When you think of federal buildings you might think of Washington, DC. But even some of the smallest towns in America have federal lands on which people will now be required to mask up. According to the General Services Administration, the federal government owns some 9,600 buildings in more than 2,000 communities across the country.
And this doesn’t just apply to federal office buildings. Post offices, some laboratories, courthouses, and ports of entry into the country can all count as federal lands. It also includes actual federal lands like national parks and even some local public parks. According to the Congressional Research Service, the federal government owns about 640 million acres of land in the United States.
Student Loan Freeze
Biden also directed the Department of Education to extend a pause on student loan payments through Sept. 30.
The current pause, which was implemented last March, was scheduled to resume at the end of January. The halt on payments is designed to take some of the financial pressure off borrowers who, at first, were still required to make their payments even as job losses mounted and the economy took a dive in the early days of the pandemic.
On average, student loan borrowers have payments between $200 to $299 due every month. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York student loan debt in the United States is upwards of $1.6 trillion spread across more than 40 million Americans.
Those payments became nearly impossible for borrowers to meet as the country experienced an unprecedented wave of lost jobs and pay cuts. And consumers having more money in their pockets now–instead of paying banks–means they are spending on goods and services, which does far more to bolster their local economy.