TREASURE VALLEY — The holiday season is full of cheer for most, but not those facing hardships like eviction. Since September, there have been about 300 eviction hearings in the Treasure Valley alone according to Jesse Tree.
This week, there are 13 eviction hearings in Ada County, with five of them taking place on Christmas Eve. They continue next week at the start of the new year with seven hearings scheduled in Ada County and seven in Canyon County.
In September, the CDC issued a federal eviction moratorium, which is supposed to halt evictions for qualifying renters temporarily. Still, because the order is so broad, many Idahoans are not protected by it correctly.
Almost 1,600 hundred Idahoans were evicted from their homes in 2019. With the coronavirus causing financial hardships on Americans, the number could be much higher this year.
"Unfortunately, many tenants don't know about the moratorium. So they don't know to sign this self-declaration form that they are supposed to sign and give that to their landlord or the court. There has been no guidance about enforcement," Executive Director of Jesse Tree Ali Rabe said.
So every judge and landlord can apply the moratorium differently. Some landlords and judges require evidence, some don't and some do not recognize it at all.
When evidence is required, it can be difficult for some to prove, such as financial hardship.
"Substantial financial hardship can be defined differently by a lot of different people, and then they have to show that they've applied for and sought out rental assistance, which can also be difficult to prove," Rabe said.
Relief could be in sight as a bipartisan group of city and state elected officials are fighting to make a $45 billion renter stimulus, which could put an average of $1,400 in American renter's pockets.
The new open letter, signed by Boise Mayor Lauren McLean, could help people in need catch back up on their payments.
McLean's office told Idaho News 6 "this letter is/was a signal of the city's commitment to explore the feasibility of this concept and to implement creative ways to keep our residents housed, including those most at risk of losing their housing."
She also tweeted in support of the letter.
$45 billion are tied up in security deposits nationwide — all while our families & friends struggle to pay rent. I’m proud to join the bipartisan group supporting the #RenterStimulus plan, which could provide renters much needed relief. More info: https://t.co/icCo4b9Syv— Mayor McLean (@boisemayor) December 22, 2020
“This rental stimulus would allow people to catch up on the rent that they owe and stay in their homes which is so important right now because if people lose the homes, they have and get an eviction on their record, it is incredibly difficult to find new house and housing that is affordable," Rabe said.