NewsLocal News


State launches rent assistance program

Posted at 5:54 PM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-11 20:05:19-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Pressure mounts for Governor Gary Herbert to extend a rent different and eviction moratorium.

It comes as the state launches a new program to help those struggling today rend because of the pandemic.

The current moratorium expires Friday, May 15 but several advocacy groups argue many people are still unable to pay rent and the new program may not be in place fast enough to help.

“It’s just not a good time,” Alexis Jones said.

Because of COVID-19, Alexis lost her tech support job in Cedar City. Even with unemployment, the mother of four has gotten behind on her bills including nearly $800 a month in rent.

“It makes it hard because they keep messaging and calling and it’s like, ‘I’m trying’,” Alexis said.

Her landlord has been good to work with, she said, but she still needs to come up with past rent.

“No one expected it. No one had saving,” Alexis said.

For Alexis, and others like her, they could face eviction later this week as the governor’s rent deferment and eviction moratorium expires.

“We are worried that those people could become homeless and that would put a strain on our system as a hole,” said Bill Tibbitts with Crossroads Urban Center.

A letter from Crossroads Urban Center and other advocates urges Governor Herbert to extend the moratorium to July 15. They say it would give more time for people to stabilize their income and go back to work.

Tibbitts said many people have yet to receive a federal help.

“We are concerned about potentially people who are sick, who could be evicted this month even though the state has created a program to pay the rent,” Tibbitts said.

He’s referring to a new $4 million rental assistance program launched Monday morning.

“Our main goal is to keep people housed,” said Jonathan Hardy with the Department of Workforce Services.

The program will direct rent payments to the landlords for qualifying Utahns who don’t receive other relief.

“We want to make sure for anybody slipping through those cracks, we have an option available to keep them housed,” said Hardy.

Advocates argue the program should have been in place May 1 to save people who may be evicted when the moratorium expires.

For Alexis, she’s just hoping for more time.

“It would make a big difference because once everything starts opening up, I can go back to work,” Alexis said.

Governor Herbert’s office told FOX13 the eviction moratorium is still under review.