PHOENIX — In just two weeks, 2020 will finally come to a close, with it a federal moratorium on evictions is set to expire.
The moratorium was put in place to prevent those impacted by COVID-19 from being put on the streets for factors outside their control.
Lawmakers in Washington D.C. have discussed another extension but for now, everyone from landlords, to tenants, to the judges who hear these cases, are stuck in limbo.
“I haven’t been paid in over 10 weeks. I’m looking to be evicted at the end of this month because I haven’t been able to make any payments,” Jamie Powell said.
Powell is desperate. Back in October, her receipt of unemployment benefits suddenly stopped and she says now classify as “in progress.” Powell said efforts to fix any issues have been unsuccessful.
Without any revenue coming in, she says she hasn’t been able to afford groceries, let alone rent.
If the moratorium isn’t granted, she says she will be evicted.
“I would be forced on the streets. I don’t even have a tent to stay in or anything,” Powell said.
Despite the moratorium, evictions have not stopped completely in Arizona.
The governor’s eviction moratorium this summer prevented the physical removal of someone from their home if they had a valid COVID-19 related reason.
However, it did not stop the legal process of an eviction.
Even still, data from the Maricopa County Justice Courts show evictions down 46% this year.
However, with the moratorium set to end, bills that have been building up over months will have to be due.
“We are going to be looking at cases where people owe $5,000, $6,000 in back rent,” Anna Huberman, Justice of the Peace, said.
Huberman handles thousands of eviction cases a year. She said the future is unclear.
“Very uncertain. We are preparing for all the situations that may come but we don’t know what is coming,” Huberman said.
On the state level, the governor indicated Arizona would follow Washington’s lead.
“We will work with whatever the federal plan is right now and there will be more to follow on that,” Gov. Doug Ducey said in a news conference Wednesday.
The answer to what happens with evictions in January likely lies with a deadlocked Congress, leaving landlords wondering how they will get paid and tenants wondering if they will have a home.
“We need to find some equitable solution to this.. but unfortunately is not in my hands to find,” Huberman said.
“It’s difficult, it’s depressing,” Powell said. Powell hopes Congress acts and extends the moratorium. She hopes another month may allow her to catch up, to get the unemployment benefits she says she’s still owed.
However, she has little faith that will happen.
“Very little to none.. they have been dragging their feet for months now on everything,” Powell said.