Eviction Moratorium: Letter to the Governor
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 30, 2020
Dear Governor Ducey,
We write to respectfully request that you extend and strengthen your March 24th residential eviction executive delay orders to prevent evictions for an additional six months, to January 22nd, 2021.
Data suggests tens of thousands of Arizonans will become homeless on July 23 if you do not extend your current eviction delay order. On this date, months of back rent will become due (and for many also late penalties) for which tenants will not be able to pay. Most will not even have the benefit of a 5-day waiting period because a majority of county justices of the peace have already approved eviction orders.
Although the Department of Housing has available rental assistance to eligible tenants, due to the slow-footed rollout getting this assistance to tenants, and because of the high bar being imposed by ADOH in providing this assistance, thousands of those who could benefit from this program will not have received the assistance by the July 22nd date.
Since evictions resumed June 1st in Pima County, approximately 783 cases have been processed and, based on a sampling of those, an eviction order has been issued in about 75 percent of the cases heard. In Maricopa County, approximately 1,700 eviction orders have been issued since mid-March. Based just on these numbers in just two Arizona counties, we can expect well over 2,000 evictions to be ripe for enforcement upon the expiration of your Order July 23rd. But the number could well be much higher – by perhaps several thousand -- as we know landlords have held off filing eviction actions this spring due to your Eviction Order. Once your Order expires, there will be no reason to hold off, and we are likely to see the flood of eviction actions.
Although some localities will be using CARES Act funding to address the “eviction cliff” that begins July 23rd, these funds are too little, too late. Unless you extend your Executive Order, we fear that relief agencies will be unable to handle the sheer number of persons who will need housing assistance and many will end up homeless. Because many of those evicted will themselves be sick with COVID-19 or be caring for a family member sick with the virus, to evict them from their homes and put them on the street or in congregate facilities will endanger the lives of many others. With an eviction on their records and possibly sick, these tenants will have trouble finding alternative housing.
We recognize that landlords, especially small landlords, are reliant upon rent to keep in business. We strongly urge you to simplify and extend the Rental Assistance program administered by ADOH so that these landlords receive the rent owed them. If stronger measures are necessary, a forgivable loan program for small business landlords, for example, we would be interested in working with you to ensure that not only are tenants kept safe but landlords are able to stay in business.
These are unprecedented times. Thousands of Arizonans have lost their jobs – temporarily we hope. As a result, they have also temporarily lost their ability to pay for shelter for themselves and for their families. While the state’s rental assistance program can help, the program has been beset by delays in delivering this assistance to eligible families. We can and must do more to prevent the pending crisis of potentially thousands of families unable to pay back rent. By extending your Executive Order by six months, until January 22, 2021, you will protect families and their children from homelessness and protect members of the public from the further spread of the disease occasioned by widespread evictions.
Thank you for your consideration.