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Indybay Feature
Housing Emergency Prevails Over Contracts
by Legal Beagle
Sunday Aug 2nd, 2020 9:59 AM
Home Building and Loan Association vs. Blaisdell, 290 U.S. 398 (1934) stated in an appeal of the Minnesota Mortgage Moratorium Law of 1933, during the emergency declared to exist, relief may be had through authorized judicial proceedings with respect to foreclosures of mortgages, and execution sales, of real estate; that sales may be postponed and periods of redemption may be extended. In other words, the emergency took precedence over the contracts clause of the Constitution.
Home Building and Loan Association vs. Blaisdell, 290 U.S. 398 (1934) stated in an appeal of the Minnesota Mortgage Moratorium Law of 1933, during the emergency declared to exist, relief may be had through authorized judicial proceedings with respect to foreclosures of mortgages, and execution sales, of real estate; that sales may be postponed and periods of redemption may be extended. In other words, the emergency took precedence over the contracts clause of the Constitution.

The majority opinion was written by Chief Justice Hughes, joined by Justices Brandeis, Stone, Roberts, Cardozo. Olson joined in a concurring opinion. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_Building_%26_Loan_Ass%27n_v._Blaisdell
Justice Olson stated in his concurring opinion that:

“The present nationwide and worldwide business and financial crisis has the same results as if it were caused by flood, earthquake, or disturbance in nature. It has deprived millions of persons in this nation of their employment and means of earning a living for themselves and their families; it has destroyed the value of and the income from all property on which thousands of people depended for a living; it actually has resulted in the loss of their homes by a number of our people, and threatens to result in the loss of their homes by many other people in this state; it has resulted in such widespread want and suffering among our people that private, state, and municipal agencies are unable to adequately relieve the want and suffering, and Congress has found it necessary to step in and attempt to remedy the situation by federal aid. Millions of the people's money were and are yet tied up in closed banks and in business enterprises.”
See https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/290/398

Today, we face conditions worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s with real unemployment at 31% when it was 25% at the height of the 1930s Great Depression. The Gross Domestic Product dropped 32% in the Second Quarter of 2020, annualized at 9.5%. See http://www.shadowstats.com/. This is the worst since WW2. See https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/jul/30/us-gdp-economy-worst-quarter-covid-19-unemployment and https://www.statista.com/statistics/996758/rea-gdp-growth-united-states-1930-2019/

It is clear that this crisis of capitalism is not disappearing soon. The above case will certainly aid in stopping evictions, an urgently needed effort, as 23 million of the 110 million American rental households are in danger of eviction. See https://www.liberationnews.org/how-to-stop-the-coming-surge-of-evictions/#.XybjXShKjcs

Hopefully, all those working to stop evictions will use this good case law to defend tenants.
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