NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, (KNWA/KFTA) — Countless residents who have fallen behind on rent are at risk of losing their homes with the expiration of a federal moratorium on evictions.
This moratorium protected renters who lived in federally funded housing. It’s a shield of protection that ends Saturday when landlords will be able to start handing out eviction notices.
“My experience with homelessness was my family being evicted over and over again I think that when you’re served with an eviction it’s scary and you kind of shut down,” said Angela Belford, the Executive Director for Fayetteville Housing Authority.
She’s also a landlord who oversees four properties. She said shes has seen an increase in tenants who are unable to pay their rent during the COVID-19 crisis.
“We have spent a lot of time working with our residents and talking to them about the ability to being able to make some payment or some sort of payment arrangement.”
Renters who lived in federally funded housing were protected from eviction through a federal moratorium under the Cares Act.
“We began issuing letters last week that just said as a reminder you are behind on your rent and just don’t forget that the moratorium ends on July 25th.”
Belford said HUD’s guidance for landlords is to issue a 30 notice of eviction. She advises people who get notices to speak to their landlords right away and utilize all of the resources that are available to you.
Economic Opportunity Agency of Washington County (EOA), Executive Director, Delia Anderson Farmer calls this a very unfortunate time for families and worries many will end up in the streets.
“It has a domino effect because a homeless family has to seek shelter and that will be overwhelming to our shelters here locally,” said Farmer.
This is why the EOA has switched its focus to rental assistance to provide financial support to those in need. People who are eligible must apply online and the process can take 5 to 7 days.
“We will continue to help people as long as the funds are available we can do what we can. We have a sincere concern for people who are struggling right now. We understand, we get it and that’s why we want to make sure we have resources available to help people with basic needs,” said Farmer.
Belford said they’re between a rock and a hard place.
“We want to be here for the people who are experiencing poverty and hardship and we want to maintain good relationships with our landlords. We don’t want to see quality landlords that do take care of residents in financial jeopardy because of this pandemic.”
Belford said there is no current plan to extend the moratorium.