Salt Lake County: Lift of eviction protections could hurt the economy and spread COVID-19

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Salt Lake County says the upcoming lift of eviction protections could hurt the economy and spread COVID-19. (photo: KUTV)

The national moratorium on housing evictions will be lifted on Dec. 31st. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a temporary block on some evictions in September.

The lift of eviction protections could impact more people than just those left without a home. Salt Lake County said they are worried that evictions could also increase the COVID-19 spikes and could hurt the economy.

Utah renters who meet certain criteria have been protected from being evicted during the coronavirus pandemic.

Those criteria include renters who have used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing and earned less than $99,00 in 2020. To meet the criteria renters must be unable to pay the full rent due to substantial loss of income, work hours, a lay-off, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses. The individual must also use best efforts to make timely partial payments and show that eviction would likely render the individual homeless— or force the individual to move into and live in close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting.

In those situations, the landlords received federal financial support, but the CDC moratorium expires on Dec. 31st.

“We're really worried and wanting to make sure we get as many residents as possible rental assistance or mortgage assistance,” said Jordan Carroll with the Salt Lake County Office of Regional Development.

Carroll has been working on the county's economic recovery from the pandemic. She said an increase in evictions could hurt an already struggling economy.

"We need county residents to be healthy, we need them to be safe and secure if they're going to feel optimistic engaging in the economy."

She said housing is also key in keeping COVID-19 from spreading.

“Having housing provides not only healthcare but greater economic stability to our region."

Carroll said renters who may be in need of assistance need to address their situation now, and not put it off, as evictions are an even bigger concern as it gets colder.

"The concern there is that we're using HUD funds and dollars to funnel into housing and these human services to supplement this need towards the end of the year to keep people in their homes,” she said.

Renters can apply for assistance, though local rental assistance varies from county to county.

"Salt Lake County will be working to release and make available more funds so that we can keep that through the end of the year, and make sure people, especially while things are spiking, we don't want people to lose their housing and their safety net."

Some states have put in place their own ban on COVID-19 related evictions, but currently Utah has not.