Trump’s order was appreciated, but there was “nothing definitive that the court could act on,” said Colleen Foley, executive director of Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee. “I hope there is something coming down the pike, [but] right now we can’t act on it.”

Trump’s executive order directed some regulators to study whether an eviction moratorium was necessary and others to investigate whether they could appropriate money for rental assistance. But it fell short of reinstating the federal eviction ban that prohibited evictions of 12 million renters in government-backed properties that expired last month, as many had expected.

That gulf may confuse renters already grappling with the daunting eviction process, say housing advocates.

The order “does almost nothing. It’s an empty shell,” said Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “It risks doing more harm than good by giving people a false impression that Trump is doing something to prevent evictions.”