Gov. Doug Burgum said that “good health starts with stable housing.”

We agree.

That’s why the ACLU of North Dakota and several other area nonprofit organizations urged him to issue a temporary moratorium on eviction actions and a freeze on foreclosures in the state. Doing so would allow people to remain stably housed as they safeguard their health, the health of their families and other North Dakotans. Because as the number of positive cases in North Dakota rises, it is becoming evident that the COVID-19 public health emergency is an economic emergency as well.

Still, Gov. Burgum insists that with the $2.2 trillion legislation that will speed government payments of $1,200 to most Americans and increase jobless benefits for millions of people thrown out of work, a temporary moratorium on eviction actions isn’t necessary. “People may be in better shape than they realize,” Gov. Burgum said.

We’ve checked the numbers, and we agree. Workers making $20,000 per year and above receiving the $1,200 stimulus check and both state and federal unemployment benefits would be able to pay back rent for April and make their May rent payment.

So theoretically, a moratorium on eviction actions isn’t needed.

But now, it’s a matter of timing. When exactly will people start receiving these checks? In order for Gov. Burgum’s solution to work, people must receive this money soon – otherwise all the things that led us to call for the Executive Order will begin to come true: People will miss their rent or mortgage payments, landlords and banks may charge late fees or even begin “soft” evictions or foreclosures, and peoples’ credit will take a hit.

And then there’s the question of equity. Will everyone in need benefit from Gov. Burgum’s proposed solution or will there be groups of people be excluded? College students who are still claimed as dependents by their parents, for example, will not get the one-time $1,200 federal stimulus check. People who get paid cash under the table or who don’t understand or can’t navigate the unemployment process due to language barriers or disabilities won’t receive state unemployment checks or the feds’ $600 a week unemployment “bonus,” either. If these people are excluded, then what are they supposed to do?

We’d love to know more, but these are questions that Gov. Burgum hasn’t answered yet.