TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - An executive order issued by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on March 24 putting a moratorium on rental evictions expires on July 22.
That means, thousands of Arizonans who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic, could lose their protections unless the moratorium is extended.
Ducey has not indicated whether he will or won’t extend it.
But he is being urged to do so by many groups and organizations including some Pima County Constables whose job it is to issue eviction notices.
“I think that for everyone, not just the tenants, but for public safety it is best to extend this order,” said Joe Ferguson, constable in District 9.
Tens of thousands of Arizonans have lost their jobs because the state issued a stay at home order in March to stop the spread and flatten the curve of the virus.
Without a paycheck, many Arizonans quickly fell behind on their rent. Ferguson says he believes the average arrears is about $2,700.
“For some people we’re evicting today, it’s simply a financial issue between them and their landlord,” he said. “It’s not about anything else.”
Even with the moratorium, many Arizonans don’t qualify for protection.
The renters must prove they are affected by the pandemic.
“They have to provide a letter to us and tell us little bit about their situation,” Ferguson said. “Sometimes they’re covered and sometimes they’re not.”
One concern is the state has a backlog of renters who will no longer receive protections if the moratorium is not extended.
Pima County is concerned there may a flood of police actions against those who are evicted and could end up in the jail which is coronavirus free. It could also add to the jail population which county officials have been trying to keep to a minimum because of the pandemic. It is asking for a system to track anyone evicted who ends up in the jail.
“Arizona is literally, you know, at the top of the list for the spike right now in COVID cases,” he said. “We need to keep people in their homes, not only for their safety but for others.”