McMorris Rodgers Seeks Answers on How Eviction Moratorium Has Impacted Military Families
Washington, D.C. (October 18, 2021) – Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), along with Congressmen Mike Rogers (AL-03) and Patrick McHenry (NC-10), today pushed Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin for answers on how the Biden Administration’s eviction moratorium has impacted servicemembers and military families in America. The cost of off-base housing was an issue raised by families at last week’s Military Family Caucus Summit, and McMorris Rodgers had previously heard from military families experiencing rent increases during Biden’s nationwide eviction moratorium.
The Military Family Caucus Summit is an annual event co-hosted by McMorris Rodgers and Congressman Sanford Bishop, co-chairs of the Congressional Military Family Caucus. At last week’s summit, Cathy heard directly from active-duty servicemembers and their families about the housing issues and rising rent prices they are facing, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the summit, McMorris Rodgers had heard from families at Fairchild Air Force Base who expressed concerns that the Biden Administration’s eviction moratorium was unduly impacting military families. In response to these concerns and the issues raised at the summit, the lawmakers sent a letter to Secretary Austin, which read in part:
“[W]e are concerned that the various federal moratoria dating back to March 2020 have placed undue financial burdens and continue to have unintended consequences on members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families.
“Anecdotal evidence suggests that revenue lost through the eviction moratorium has forced some landlords under financial pressure to increase rent on other tenants who have remained current on their rent throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency. This regrettable but foreseeable outcome to recoup lost rent is effectively punishing renters who pay their bills on time while tens of billions of federal ERA dollars intended to help continue to go unspent.
“In particular, we are concerned that this burden is falling on military families due to the additional requirements military law places on servicemembers and their families to make timely payments on their debts. [T]he penalty for the offense of dishonorable failure to pay debts may include a bad-conduct discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for up to six months. Therefore, military families must make rent payments or risk serious punishment that puts their futures at risk.”
Recognizing the financial and emotional pressure on military families to stay current on debt obligations, the lawmakers also requested answers to the following questions:
- Is the Department of Defense (DoD) tracking trends in rent increases on military families that may be a direct result of the federal eviction moratorium?
- What action, if any, is the DoD taking to help servicemembers and military families address rent increases imposed on them during the COVID-19 public health emergency?
- In the case of failure to pay debts during a public health emergency, does the DoD have the authority to waive Article 134 penalties, as appropriate, in order to assist servicemembers and military families who may be struggling to pay rent?
CLICK HERE to read the full letter.