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NM Lawmakers Tackle Gaps in Housing Laws to Reduce Evictions

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021   

SANTA FE, N.M. - During the 2021 session, New Mexico lawmakers are expected to focus heavily on pandemic relief - including a bill that would modernize the housing code with the goal of reducing evictions.

Co-sponsored by Rep. Angelica Rubio, D-Las Cruces, House Bill 111 addresses the time frame for evictions, increasing the current three-day notice to 10 days and allowing courts more flexibility by lengthening the time for an eviction hearing. Rubio said the changes would give people who are struggling financially time to make arrangements that would allow them to stay in their home.

"People are in a position right now where they are in their homes, they are trying to make it work," she said, "and we don't want to increase the number of people who are living without shelter."

Another proposal would prohibit landlords from refusing to rent to a person using the Housing Choice Voucher Program under Section 8 if they otherwise are eligible based on their income.

The modernization bill is supported by the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness. For homeless individuals who have found temporary shelter in motels, said Brie Sillery, the group's communications strategist, the legislation could lower barriers to help them find a more permanent housing solution.

"When we have homeless people that stabilize," she said, "losing that stabilization and having that re-traumatization of going onto the street can be very detrimental."

Rubio said the proposed legislation also would create a council model so that in the future a group could work with state government on overall housing issues, rather than tackling them piecemeal, "because there is not centralized person or individual or department that oversees housing and collaborates with agencies across the state."

Security has been heightened at the Roundhouse this week, with fencing and barricades as a precaution after some lawmakers reported credible and specific threats of violence. That has limited attendees to lawmakers, legislative staff and credentialed reporters.

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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