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Federal eviction hold extended, giving Pima officials more time to help residents at risk of eviction

With a federal block on evictions extended another 30 days, Pima County and Tucson officials have more time to connect residents and landlords to resources, including financial assistance.

The Centers for Disease Control announced the one-month extension Thursday, signaling it as the final lengthening of the pandemic-related prohibition on evicting many people from their homes.

En español: Otro mes para la moratoria de desalojo dará Pima mas tiempo para ayudar los inquilinos

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed an order to extend the temporary halt to evictions to stop the further spread of COVID-19 ordered in September of last year, which had been set to expire on June 30 — next Wednesday. The halt or moratorium on evictions will now last until July 31. The order prevents many landlords from evicting residents who have been unable to pay rent because of the coronavirus outbreak, but doesn’t relieve renters from the obligation of eventually paying rent nor prevent landlords from charging or collecting fees, penalties or interest.

The Tucson City Council earlier this week extended the moratorium on evictions for tenants of city-owned facilities until December 1.

The CDC's extension will give local officials more time to help residents, Pima County Constable Kristen Randall said. With the added time, the county and its partners can schedule more eviction resource fairs that connect people to caseworkers and provide them with applications for rental assistance. She and the county plan to work hard to make sure they use their extra time wisely, Randall said.

“The extension gives us time to continue working with families and property managers to educate them on the rental assistance grants that are available,” Randell said. “We have a substantial amount of people in line to receive assistance, and we were going to run out of time before we ran out of money.”

Randell said that an extra month will potentially keep hundreds of Pima County families in their homes.

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“With the amount of money we have for eviction prevention, this was the right thing to do,” she said.

According to the CDC, this will be the final extension on the moratorium as it had already been extended from a Dec. 31, 2020 deadline.

Residents in Tucson and Pima County can still apply to get on the wait list for the city of Tucson and Pima County Eviction Prevention Program, which connects both landlords and tenants to $27.1 million made available by the stimulus passed by Congress in December for COVID relief. 

The Eviction Prevention Program provides up to 15 months or $30,000 in total assistance that can be used to pay up to 12 months of unpaid rent due after March 13, 2020, to pay up to three months’ rent in advance, to cover the cost of utilities including electricity, gas and water or to cover court and legal fees incurred by landlords filing for eviction. Tenants and landlords can also seek approval from the county for other reasonable costs.

In addition to being able to apply online, tenants and landlords can apply or get information by calling 832-292-4308. The Eviction Prevention Program can connect residents to bilingual case managers as well.

Bennito L. Kelty is TucsonSentinel.com’s IDEA reporter, focusing on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access stories, and a Report for America corps member.

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courtesy Constable Kristen Randall