Utah’s eviction moratorium for those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic ends May 15, after which landlords can begin serving notices to tenants who haven’t paid April or May rent.
Nearly two dozen community advocacy organizations sent a letter to Gov. Gary Herbert asking for evictions to be deferred until July 15. That date would put Utah’s policy closer to a federal eviction suspension for people living in subsidized housing set to expire in late July.
Bill Tibbitts from Crossroads Urban Center said he’s concerned some landlords will try to remove tenants as soon as they can, putting more stress on what’s already an unstable situation.
“When people reach the point where they’re showing up at the shelter, it becomes a lot more expensive to help them meet their basic life necessities,” Tibbitts said.
In the letter, the groups also requested prohibiting landlords from raising rent through July 15.
But the Utah Apartment Association said an eviction freeze is no longer needed because people have access to government aid.
In fact, the state’s Department of Workforce Services plans to start a rental assistance program on Monday with $4 million in federal funding.
Jonathan Hardy, housing and community development director with the department, said it’s specifically for those who don’t qualify for unemployment insurance, like undocumented families and people who work full time but have diminished wages.
Hardy said applicants will be assessed for all the resources they’re already receiving to determine how much assistance they get from this program.
“We’ll look at one month at a time and make a determination on what is needed,” Hardy said. “But we’re trying to keep people in their housing, so we’ll make the payments according to what their needs are.”
In a statement, the Governor’s Office said it’s reviewing the moratorium order.
Emily Means covers politics for KUER. Follow her on Twitter @Em_Means13