With Evictions Moratorium Nearing Its End, Housing Advocates Encourage Renters To Be Proactive
With a federal moratorium on evictions coming to an end this month, housing advocates in Utah are worried thousands of people in the state could lose their homes.
Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows there are about 16,000 Utahns at risk of eviction or foreclosure. If that many people are running into trouble — and don’t seek help — it could be disastrous, according to Francisca Blanc with the Utah Housing Coalition.
Just how bad though is hard to say.
“The plan, as advocates, is we’re just going to have to help negotiate for them,” Blanc said. ”We don't know for sure. I mean, we never were faced with this kind of situation.”
The good news is there is a lot of money available for people who need help paying their bills, everything from rent and utilities to food and healthcare.
But Christina Oliver, director of Housing and Community Development with the state’s Department of Workforce Services, said the key is for people to apply before they run into issues.
“When you're in crisis — that's the time when the eviction notices are laying on your table — that's too late,” Oliver said.
While people can still get help after the fact, she said it’s important for them to not panic, contact their landlord and look into rental assistance proactively. An eviction will be much more complicated and expensive to deal with, leaving a mark on people’s records that will make it harder to get housing in the future. They could also face legal action and fees.
Oliver said the state has about $180 million in rental assistance available right now. People can apply for up to three months of help, though that can be extended if needed. Landlords can also apply on behalf of their tenants.
Blanc said the first place people should go to see what resources are available is rentrelief.utah.gov, or call 211 to find services available in their area.
For anyone who’s already run into issues with their landlord, there are free mediation and legal services available too. People can reach out to Utah Community Action, People’s Legal Aid and Utah Legal Services.