TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Fearing a wave of evictions Pima County Supervisors devoted two million dollars to legal help to keep tenants from ending up out in the streets, and eight million dollars to help tenants pay their rent. Both programs are designed for renters at risk of eviction because of how the COVID pandemic affected health and jobs.
Renters rights advocates say high rents were already threatening tenants with evictions when COVID shut downs threw people out of jobs and made things much worse.
Evictions have been restricted to avoid making more people homeless in the middle of a pandemic, but activists fear a wave of evictions when the moratorium expires at the end of the month.
Pima Supervisor Matt Heinz proposed spending two million dollars in COVID relief funds for lawyers to help low income tenants avoid eviction.
Advocates spoke to Supervisors by audio link. Brian Flagg of Casa Maria Soup Kitchen told Supervisors without lawyers, people get crushed, with them, they have a fighting chance.
“We really need to have representation for people to save their dignity because what's more undignified than having your family thrown out in the street, during the pandemic time.”
Supervisor Steve Christy argued landlords would rather retain tenants than evict them. He urged supervisors to add the two million dollars to rental assistance funds already devoted to helping tenants pay their rent.
“What is needed is to dispense immediately and effectively rental assistance not for lawyers Rental assistance is the only thing that 100% stops eviction for non payment of rent.”
In other board action, supervisors unanimously did approve $8 million in rental assistance to help tenants pay their rent if they have been affected by the pandemic.
Christy was the sole no vote when Supervisors voted four to one to approve legal assistance for renters.