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Renters, small businesses able to avoid evictions due to COVID-19

By: - March 30, 2020 11:19 am

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which causes COVID-19. Public domain image.

Renters affected by COVID-19 are eligible for financial aid to help them avoid eviction and through new funds made available Monday and small businesses facing eviction can expect to see those notices suspended for at least 60 days due to a new law going into effect Monday as well.

Gov. Doug Ducey announced March 27 that $5 million in new rental assistance money will be made available from the state’s Housing Trust Fund. The money will be sent to the Rental Eviction Prevention Assistance Program run by the Arizona Department of Housing.

The money will be made available to those who have seen a loss of income due to COVID-19 that “does not exceed 100 percent of the area median income adjusted for family size for the county in which they reside.” 

An online application will be available at the Arizona Department of Housing’s website, and the governor’s office is asking renters without internet availability to call their local Community Action Agency.  

Ducey has also issued an executive order delaying evictions for 120 days during the COVID-19 pandemic for those affected by the illness, which is caused by the coronavirus. 

On Monday, Ducey announced a plan to delay evictions for small businesses.

The governor said banks in Arizona have agreed to take part in the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program, which was part of the $2 trillion stimulus package passed last week. 

The agreement would see banks suspending evictions on small businesses for 60 days, with the potential to extend that if a state of emergency is declared. The program also allows the banks to doll out small business loans to those small businesses impacted by COVID-19. 

Housing Trust Fund

The money for the rental assistance program is coming from the State Housing Trust Fund.

The fund receives money from the sales of unclaimed property belonging to the state, like buildings and safe-deposit boxes. But like many other dedicated funds operated by the state, the Housing Trust Fund was depleted during the Great Recession.

At its height, the fund had $40 million in 2007. If the new appropriation is approved, the fund will have approximately $12 million, the most it has had in a decade.

Since 2010, the fund has had a cap of $2.5 million put on it, a cap that advocates and lawmakers have been trying to change to no avail.

Last session the state committed $15 million to the fund

Approximately 46 percent of homes in the greater Phoenix area, the largest portion of the state’s population, rent their homes, according to the most recent census data. About 35 percent of the entire state are renters. 

As of March 30, there are 1,157 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Arizona and 20 deaths, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services

How you can tell if you might have been impacted

Symptoms of COVID-19 resemble that of the flu. So, if you’re experiencing coughing, fever, difficulty breathing, or shortness of breath, you should consider getting checked out. Call your primary care physician or visit an urgent care center or emergency room — but call the health care provider before you go so they can be prepared for your arrival. The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center is taking COVID-19 calls: 1-844-542-8201

How COVID-19 spreads

  • Through the air by coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it

How to prevent spreading COVID-19

  • Cover coughs or sneezes with your elbow. Don’t use your hands.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Clean surfaces frequently, including counter tops, light switches, cell phones, remotes, and other frequently touched items.
  • Contain: If you are sick, stay home until you are feeling better. Once symptoms are gone experts recommend staying home an additional 72 hours.

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joins the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. Jerod has also won awards for his documentary films which have covered issues such as religious tolerance and surveillance technology used by police. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.