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NM Renters Get Eviction Reprieve, But Filing Paperwork is Key

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Wednesday, May 19, 2021   

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Since the pandemic began, thousands of Americans haven't been able to afford rent - creating fear among those facing evictions and frustration for landlords who have their own bills to pay.

The Biden administration has promised billions more aid through the Emergency Rental Assistance Allocation, but the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has said tenants need to initiate the process.

Brie Sillery, communications strategist with the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness, said renters must have a declaratory statement, in writing, to show they're unable to pay rent because of the pandemic.

"Everyone is really agreeing we need to get this money to the people that are needing it," she said, "and making sure that we are eliminating barriers, such as uncooperative property management companies."

The federal eviction moratorium established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to expire at the end of June, although city and state pauses on evictions have no definitive closing date. To maintain housing, Sillery encouraged renters to seek help online - through renthelpnm.org - to get current on rent payments. She noted that landlords can also apply on behalf of their tenants.

Sillery encouraged New Mexico renters to apply for assistance, even if they previously were denied, because the funding has been streamlined to remove barriers and ensure money gets to those who need it. At the same time, she said, everyone should be concerned about the welfare of renters once the moratorium lifts.

"We're going to continue to see this sharp increase of homelessness," she said, "and we're going to have to figure out how to coexist and help people to get back on their feet - when and how they are able to."

A recent report by local nonprofit Chainbreaker Collective and California-based Human Impact Partners showed that when the COVID-19 pandemic moratoriums are lifted, Santa Fe alone could see as many as 5,700 evictions.

Disclosure: New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness contributes to our fund for reporting on Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault, Housing/Homelessness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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