Rebound Idaho: Federal eviction moratorium ends Friday -- here's why it's concerning and how you can stay housed

Posted at 10:14 PM, Jul 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-23 00:14:05-04

As we reported Monday, an expert is predicting Idaho’s economy will take a hit when the federal $600 dollars-a-week boost to regular unemployment benefits expires at the end of this week. But that’s not the only thing expiring; the federal ban on evictions on rental units also ends this week.

And while some of Idaho's housing nonprofit leaders predict it will put many Idahoans at risk of being kicked out of their homes, they are also hoping landlords will call upon them for help before evicting someone.

“Housing is healthcare, right? It’s the recommended intervention right now during COVID. And to have all these households potentially not have housing in the near future, is really scary for us as a community," said Stephanie Day, executive director of CATCH Housing.

According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data, in the eleventh week of the COVID-19 crisis, Idaho experienced more housing insecurity than any state in the pacific northwest.

They’re reporting that roughly 24 percent of Idaho adults either missed last month’s rent or mortgage payment, or have slight to no confidence that their household can pay next month’s rent or mortgage on time. This is an uptick from weeks prior -- and Day can attest to that.

“Are you seeing more homelessness recently?” I asked.

"Yes," said Day. "There’s definitely been a pretty big uptick the last month and a half, and we’re pretty sure that’s just the beginning.”

Back in March, the CARES act put a moratorium on eviction — applicable to renters in homes with federally-backed mortgages held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. The Urban Institute estimates that about 12.3 million households have been protected by the moratorium, or about 30 percent of all renters nationwide, but that is set to expire Friday.

“I’m really concerned about, a lot of our properties are owned by people out-of-state who are not gonna have any kind of a context for what it means to be evicting people in our community," said Day. "And right now if someone’s evicted, it’s going to be extremely hard for them to find a place to go.”

She’s urging at-risk renters to look into local resources like the Idaho Housing and Finance Association’s Housing Preservation Program, which provides short-term rental assistance.

She is also urging landlords to call their offices at CATCH at (208) 246-8830 before evicting someone. This way, they can mediate and try to work something out.

“We have a lot of federal funding and state funding pouring into the community to help prevent eviction, so if landlords are out there, and their tenants are having a hard time paying their rent, we want to help them keep them housed," said Day.