SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The COVID-19 pandemic brought an abundance of new challenges and barriers that impacted the quality of life and well-being for people around the world.
One of those issues were loss of financial income and inability to pay rent, which put millions of people in the U.S. in danger of being evicted from their homes. Another concern were people moving from place-to-place or filling homeless shelters during a time of high virus transmission.
To protect those individuals who were at-risk. the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) implemented a federal moratorium last year that prevented landlords and property managers from evicting their tenants. However, those tenants had to attest under penalty of perjury that they had been negatively impacted by COVID-19 by completing a Declaration of Eligibility.
Since then, the federal eviction moratorium has been extended multiple times and most recently expired last Saturday. The Supreme Court later ruled it was up to Congress, not the White House to take action from that point forward.
On Tuesday, the CDC issued a new eviction ban that would last until October 3 to help keep millions of people in their homes since a number of states have been slow to release federal rental aid. The new moratorium temporarily halts evictions in about 90 percent of the U.S. under the eligible criteria of counties with “substantial and high levels” of COVID-19 transmission. In Utah, about half of our counties fall under this category.
Debra Chamberlain, who is a single mother living with two of her children shared her experience in an extended pre-recorded interview with ABC4‘s Jillian Smukler last week. She said she was forced to move out of her place, after only living there for six months because her landlord wanted to sell the property and gave her 30 days to vacate. At the time, the eviction moratorium was set to expire last Saturday, so it was legal for them to so do.
She explained the difficulties she faced finding a new place to live in such a short amount of time, concerns she has with the state still seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions, and what she plans to do next.
Tara Rollins, executive director of the Utah Housing Coalition discussed the CDC’s new announcement to extend the eviction moratorium, how the State of Utah has done with helping renters financially during the pandemic, where we might be with evictions if the moratorium was never in place, the common demographics among people who typically face these rental challenges, and the difference between termination of leases and evictions.
Paul Smith, executive director of the Utah Apartment Association talked about his thoughts regarding the CDC’s new announcement to extend the eviction moratorium, how property owners have done financially during the pandemic, what his organization advises landlords to do during the moratorium, the eviction rate in Utah, the circumstances where leases can be terminated, and the biggest challenges for property owners going forward.
To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Chamberlain, Rollins, and Smith, click on the video at the top of the article.
Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.