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Rebound Idaho: Beginning Friday, renters affected by COVID-19 cannot be evicted for inability to pay rent

Here's what you should know about the moratorium.
Posted at 10:28 PM, Sep 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-04 00:28:08-04

BOISE, Idaho — Housing protections for Americans were re-upped this week -- but this time, by the CDC.

In an effort to avoid having renters wind up in shelters or other crowded living spaces, The Trump administration announced a ban on evictions Tuesday for renters affected by COVID-19. This goes even further than the CARES Act moratorium did -- affecting more people.

How might this affect Idahoans specifically?

Idaho housing advocates we spoke to seem to agree that the moratorium buys at-risk Idaho tenants some much needed time to re-stabilize, but a shelter leader also worries about what will happen when the ban expires.

But first, let's look at who qualifies. Starting Friday until December 31, all renters affected by COVID-19 who meet these satisfactions cannot be evicted for being short on rent:

  • Can’t pay rent because of loss of income/wages or medical expenses
  • Tried to get government assistance for housing
  • Received a stimulus check (or don’t expect to earn more than $99K this year)
  • Are doing their best to make partial payments

Calling it a “monumental step," the National Housing Law Project praised the CDC's actions in a statement, "[They] will protect families from homelessness and housing instability, which is a danger to everyone.”

But not everyone is as thrilled.

In an email to Idaho News 6, Paul Smith of the Idaho Apartment Association, representing many Idaho landlords and property managers, said, "Housing providers didn’t cause the crisis and shouldn’t bear the brunt of it."

He also went on to say, "We don’t anticipate many problems. This doesn’t forgive rents. Late fees are still in effect. We can still file most evictions. It simply gives a defense to a tenant until January. Then they will have to pay."

That’s the part of it that concerns Jodi Peterson-Stigers, executive director of Interfaith Sanctuary.

“It’s not removing the problem," said Peterson-Stigers. "It’s moving it down the calendar.”

She said the number of people becoming homeless from COVID-19 is increasing.

“The system has a lot of pressure on it right now,” said Peterson-Stigers.
And at Boise's Interfaith Sanctuary, she says they’re at capacity.

“On any given night, we don’t really have space in our shelter to serve a bigger homeless population."

She also said she finds the timing of its expiration date concerning.
“It’s freezing cold in January in Idaho.”

Peterson-Stigers says she feels the upside is it gives people some time to come up with solutions -- which she’s currently working with guests to help them find.

“So what that means is, you need to be looking for employment, be getting connected to services, working with agencies that — if you are at risk at all of not being able to pay your rent, or lose your housing — this is gonna buy you some time," said Peterson-Stigers.

If you’ve been affected financially by COVID-19, the Idaho Housing and Finance Association still has several million dollars left to give to those qualify. Go to idahohousing.com to apply for their rental assistance program for tenants affected by COVID-19.