By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON, Sept 1 (Reuters) - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday issued an order temporarily halting residential evictions on public health grounds.
The order lasts through Dec. 31 and applies to individual renters earning no more than $99,000 in annual income. The CDC said an eviction moratorium "can be an effective public health measure utilized to prevent the spread of communicable disease" like COVID-19.
Renters still owe rent and the order does not prevent the "charging or collecting of fees, penalties, or interest as a result of the failure to pay rent or other housing payment on a timely basis," the CDC said.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told a U.S. House of Representatives panel earlier the measure was to ensure people "don't get thrown out of their rental homes" as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mnuchin said the actions affect about 40 million renters. He said Congress should still approve rental assistance.
In July, a firm estimated more than $21.5 billion in past-due rent is owed by Americans.
Over the spring and early summer, as unemployment surged to levels unseen since the aftermath of the 1930s Great Depression, a patchwork of federal, state and local eviction bans kept renters who could not make payments in homes.
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill in May that would extend enhanced jobless aid through January and allocated $100 billion for rental assistance. It would also have extended the federal ban on evictions for up to one year. The bill has not been approved in the Senate.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Tom Brown and Richard Pullin)
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