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Lawmakers, social service agencies ask Ducey to reinstate eviction moratorium
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Lawmakers, social service agencies ask Ducey to reinstate eviction moratorium

An eviction notice is taped to an apartment window. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium is set to expire March 31.

About 40 Arizona Democratic lawmakers are asking Republican Gov. Doug Ducey to reinstate an eviction moratorium when the federal one ends Wednesday.

During a March 24 update, Pima County's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Francisco Garcia discusses the state's rejection of a federally funded vaccine site in Tucson and their plans to expand vaccine availability.

“We expect that hundreds, if not thousands of Arizona families unable to pay rent due to hardship related to the pandemic, will be evicted starting April 1st,” the legislators wrote to Ducey on Thursday, March 25.

“Such hardship and cost for the families facing eviction, as well as for the landlords, management companies and the courts may be entirely unnecessary, given that Congress has now appropriated significant additional funding for rental assistance in the American Rescue Plan,” the letter continues.

The letter requests that the state impose a moratorium for three months, or until the state and local agencies can distribute new rental assistance funds. Arizona is reportedly receiving $374 million in emergency rental assistance.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium is set to expire March 31 and so far there is no indication it will be extended.

“A short-term extension of the eviction moratorium would enable the state and its partners to distribute these funds to the renters that qualify for them, thereby avoiding unnecessary and costly eviction actions,” the legislators wrote. “With these funds we have the critical opportunity to keep families in their homes and prevent them from becoming homeless, living on the street, in their cars or in motels.”

Another letter was also sent to Ducey Thursday by Mackenzie S. Pish, program manager for the Innovation for Justice Program at the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law.

That letter outlines the same concerns and was signed by members of 31 Arizona organizations and four Pima County elected officials.

Ducey’s spokesman, C.J. Karamargin, did not respond Friday to a request for comment.

Many Arizona property owners and landlords are overstretched after months of waiting for rental assistance funds from the government on behalf of tenants not paying rent.

The housing crisis — present throughout the pandemic — has been compounded in 2021 by Congress not approving additional eviction prevention dollars until late December.

This delay was followed by the state moving funding oversight from Arizona’s Department of Housing to its Department of Economic Security, which required new systems to be established.

There are currently thousands of applications for rental assistance pending in Pima County. About $31 million became available earlier this month in a joint effort between Pima County and the city of Tucson.

What’s largely unknowable is how many people will be evicted, or priced out of their rentals, before assistance arrives.

Data provided by the county constables’ office showed more than 4,000 eviction orders from court were still outstanding as of early March and that number has since grown, although it’s not clear how many of those orders will be enforced.

Contact reporter Patty Machelor at pmachelor@tucson.com or 806-7754. On Twitter: @pattymachstar.


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