A Trump economic official said that 'the best way to make people homeless is to make housing free'

A Trump economic official said that 'the best way to make people homeless is to make housing free'
Housing activists gathering in Massachusetts in October. Michael Dwyer/AP Photo
  • The Biden administration and the CDC enacted a new, limited eviction ban on Tuesday.
  • The new ban could help keep many Americans in their homes in areas hit hard by the Delta variant.
  • But conservatives said they fear the new order will keep developers from building more amidst a historic housing shortage.

Conservatives, including a former Trump economic official, worry that the new eviction ban implemented by the Biden Administration on Tuesday could lead to less housing getting built, as millions of Americans prepared to be forced out of their homes amidst an ongoing pandemic.

These worries come after the Biden administration announced a new targeted ban on evictions just days after a federal pandemic-era eviction moratorium lapsed, leaving seven million renters at risk of getting kicked out.

Casey Mulligan, the former chief economist for the White House Council of Economic Advisers during the Trump administration, told the Washington Post that allowing a longer reprieve for people behind on paying rent would mean fewer funds to developers and could disincentivize them building more. The US is currently in a housing crisis because it doesn't have enough homes to meet prospective buyers' demand.

"There's an old expression that the best way to make people starve is to make food free. The best way to make people homeless is to make housing free," Mulligan told the Washington Post.

Biden's new measure isn't as encompassing as the eviction moratorium that was in place during the pandemic. It'll focus on areas that have high levels of COVID transmission, and it expires October 3. But it does serve to provide relief for some renters who faced losing their homes as the Delta variant continues to surge throughout the US. The order targets areas that are experiencing "substantial" or "high" levels of covid transmission - which the CDC order says was true of over 80% of counties on August 1.


"This moratorium is the right thing to do to keep people in their homes and out of congregate settings where COVID-19 spreads," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement, adding, "Such mass evictions and the attendant public health consequences would be very difficult to reverse."

The order will be dropped in impacted areas when infections reach "controllable levels" for 14 consecutive days, or on October 3, whichever comes first (unless infections start spiking again), Insider's Azmi Haroun and Joseph Zeballos-Roig reported.

But some conservatives are arguing that the new order could also worsen the ongoing housing shortage by shortchanging housing developers. Developers have been building more new rental homes recently, but President Biden himself recently met with homebuilders and unions to discuss the current short-squeeze.

As Insider's Ben Winck reported, there is an ongoing housing crisis - but it's one that centers more on homeowners and affordability. Inventory has been and continues to remain tight, and it's filtering in to the rental market and jacking up prices.

But letting the eviction moratorium lapse might actually exacerbate the current housing situation, Insider's Taylor Borden reports. According to US Census Bureau data, 7.4 million households were behind on rent; if they're forced out, their units might open up to prospective renters - but it also means millions of newly evicted renters will be scrambling to find housing.


And more affordable housing might still be far off: While the Biden administration included affordable housing in its initial infrastructure proposal, it doesn't seem to have made it into the bipartisan proposal.