Renters get closer to eviction as state rental assistance lags

Posted at 8:15 PM, Jul 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-14 01:59:57-04

PHOENIX — On July 23 the postponement of eviction actions against Arizona renters will expire, allowing the constable to forcibly remove tenants who are behind on rent.

The Governor's executive order, issued on March 24 held off on evictions due for 120 days if non-payment was COVID-19 related. On March 30 the Governor announced a $5 million rental assistance program that was facilitated by 11 community action agencies. As of July 10 just over $1.1 million has been distributed.

Julie Page of Phoenix is one of those waiting for payment and she says her landlord's patience is wearing thin.

Her application is being handled by the City of Phoenix Human Services Department.

In a recent conversation, she says her landlord told her, "we can't continue to let this go on forever. You can't let this go month to month, month to month without you ever paying any money."

In May Julie talked to ABC15 about her original application for rental assistance for May.

Just days after her story aired, Julie's April rent was paid. But now she says May, June, and July are behind.

"I don't have anywhere to go so yeah, I don't know what I'm going to do," she said.

According to data from the Arizona Department of Housing (AZDH) 17, 804 applications for rental assistance have been received through July 10.

-8,138 are in review

-1,177 have been approved

-550 are ineligible

-803 have been withdrawn by the applicant

-7, 136 are incomplete

The incompletions are important because the Arizona Multihousing Association says paperwork is a problem for renters. The group lobbies on behalf of landlords.

"The red tape needs to be cut, we need to further streamline the process so that renters can quickly access these funds. Right now there's too many hoops," CEO Courtney Gilstrap LeVinus told ABC15.

AZDH spokesperson Janelle Johnsen sent ABC15 a statement saying, "we continue to find that a majority of applications are still incomplete due to missing documentation."

She went on to say to expedite the process they are easing documentation requirements four items:

-Copy of current lease/rental agreement

- Paystubs or other documentation of monthly income pre-COVID 19

- Paystubs or other documentation of current monthly income

-Copy of a Driver’s License or State Issued ID

Johnsen also said it has changed policy to allow agencies to pay more than one month of rent at a time.

But it's a change Julie could not benefit from because her application was so old. She recently found out she had to apply again.

"And it looks like I'm just back in the shuffle again of the initial applicants," Julie said.

For now she says she's holding out hope that the rent will come in before her.

"I've tried to take it one day at a time. I'm trying to stay positive," she said. "It is my faith that things will come together and it will work out in some way, but right now I don't know how that's gonna happen."