TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — People involved in enforcing evictions are looking for ways to hold off a wave of people being forced from their homes when COVID-related protections run out.
The special protections do not prevent all evictions but do protect tenants from eviction if they have COVID-19, are caring for someone with special health concerns, or lost their job because of the pandemic.
The rules are based on an emergency order from the Centers for Disease Control to reduce the chance homelessness will help spread the virus. But that order ends December 31st. The Facebook page for Tucson’s Barrio Neighborhood Coalition includes stories like Claudia’s. She says COVID cost her her job, and she’s a single mother of three.
She says, “For the past five months I haven't had the money to pay rent. I asked for the people who have the power to be able to extend the moratorium and give people like me who have been extremely affected a chance to be able to catch up on our bills.”
Presiding Pima County Constable Kristin Randall says there are about three hundred eviction orders she and her fellow constables will be required to enforce as soon as the moratorium ends. She expects about a thousand more.
And she says she’s in quarantine for now because it’s so easy for constables to be exposed to COVID as they come to so many homes.
Constable Randall says some evictions start before tenants qualify for COVID protections but the tenants catch the virus while the eviction moves through the courts.
She says constables can grant short delays for health and safety reasons.
“We're talking about maybe, maybe a few days at most, but we can give people the opportunity to go and get a coronavirus test. And if and when that coronavirus test comes back positive, they can call up the court and they can ask for a motion for reconsideration.”
Randall hopes the moratorium will be extended and hopes the Federal Government will grant more money Tucson and Pima County can use to cover rents for qualified tenants.
“It helps the tenant stay in their homes, but it really really helps the landlords stay afloat, especially in this difficult time, especially a lot of them are trying to work with their tenants. They're taking partial payments, so that rental assistance is key to help both sides.”