CNN Business  — 

As one of his first acts as president, Joe Biden called on several federal departments and agencies to extend their bans on evictions and foreclosures for those affected by the coronavirus until at least the end of March.

One of several executive actions Biden took on Wednesday, it is a signal from the incoming administration that immediate action is needed in order to stabilize housing for the estimated 25 million renters and homeowners who are at risk of losing their homes.

The action seeks to extend the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s federal moratorium on eviction for non-payment of rent by two more months. The CDC’s order first went into effect in September and the latest stimulus bill extended the protection until January 31.

President Biden also asked the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to extend foreclosure moratoriums for federally backed mortgages until March 31. He asked these agencies to accept applications for forbearance for federally guaranteed mortgages until that time as well.

In response, the USDA announced it would extend its deadlines to the end of March.

On Tuesday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) ​extended​ its foreclosure and eviction moratoriums until the end of February. But the President asked for that period to be extended. Biden also asked the enterprises to continue accepting forbearance applications for all loans guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

An estimated 14 million adults living in rental housing were behind on their rent in December, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. That is 1 in 5 renters. An estimated 11.8 million adults are behind on their mortgage.

These shortfalls disproportionately impact families of color. While 12% of White renters said they had not been able to catch up on their rent, 24% of Latino and 28% of Black renters said they had fallen behind.

While Biden’s executive action provides some immediate protections, administration officials say the bans on evictions and foreclosures are not enough.

That is why the President is also asking Congress to approve a Covid relief bill that would provide $35 billion in rent, utilities and homelessness relief. That would be in addition to the $25 billion in rent relief included in the second stimulus passed in December.

The rent relief is critical because an eviction ban does not cancel rent. It will cost $76.1 billion over twelve months just to assist extremely and very low-income households composed of renters hurt by this pandemic, according to an estimate from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Meanwhile, small landlords are being squeezed.

Struggling renters had been protected by a patchwork of federal, state and local eviction moratoriums, many of which expired over the summer. The first large stimulus package offered a narrow eviction protection for renters whose landlords had a federally backed mortgage and for those living in federally assisted housing.

In September, the Centers for Disease Control put in place an eviction moratorium that protected all eligible renters from being evicted for non payment of rent. The emergency order temporarily prohibits new and previously filed evictions from occurring in an effort to prevent further transmission of the coronavirus.

But it is up to the tenant to invoke the protection. And despite the ban, evictions are still taking place.

A federally mandated eviction moratorium comes as much-needed relief to those on the front lines of assisting struggling renters.

“If all we get is an extension of the CDC order, we’ll take it,” said Dana Karni, managing attorney at Lone Star Legal Aid’s Eviction Right to Counsel Project in Texas.

But she added that many tenants are still being evicted. In Harris County, Texas, she said it is the minority of tenants in litigation who have used the CDC protection. The CDC order does not protect against a landlord not renewing a lease when it expires.

“In other words, things look awfully bleak in Houston,” Karni said.