CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced plans on Monday to extend the statewide eviction moratorium for the third time since the start of the pandemic.
The moratorium was set to expire on Wednesday and will now sunset on May 31. It applies to evictions based on non-payment of rent, but it allows for proceedings if tenants violate other terms of their leases, for example by damaging property.
The governor said the 60 days would give officials and aid organizations time to better publicize how tenants can access the rental assistance passed as part the American Rescue Plan, which totals $161 million in Clark County alone.
“This money must get out the door faster. We don’t want to send federal money set aside specifically for rental assistance back to Washington D.C. This money belongs in Nevada,” Sisolak said.
The announcement comes one day after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended the federal eviction moratorium until the end of June. The federal moratorium prevents tenants from being evicted if they can prove they have sought pandemic rental assistance and have struggled to keep up with rent because of COVID-19.
State eviction laws vary widely throughout the U.S., and many state and local governments have implemented their own moratoriums that spell out more clearly for tenants, landlords and courts what kind of evictions are banned. Sisolak said he expected local governments and aid organizations to ensure tenants in need can access the resources available and promised to not extend the state moratorium again.
“The reality is that landlords are struggling too. They deserve to be paid for the last year, and the money is there to make them whole,” he said, referring to the federal pandemic relief that President Joe Biden signed in February.
Nevada officials said they didn’t know how many renters were facing eviction because many of the cases never reach court. But Shannon Chambers of Home Means Nevada, which is overseeing a mediation program passed last summer, estimated between 5% and 7% of renters in Clark County, where the majority of the state’s population lives, were at risk of evictions. She said 3,500 were in the court system.
Nevada, like other states, has struggled to get recently passed rental assistance out the door to tenants and landlords. Clark County officials said more than 22,500 Las Vegas-area households received rent or mortgage assistance through federally funded grant programs from July to December.
Thousands of applications remained pending when the county exhausted its initial $97 million assistance fund in December. They were carried over to a new rental assistance program with stricter eligibility and documentation requirements, and an online portal launched March 22, Assistant County Manager Kevin Schiller said.
There are now about 23,500 applications pending, he added.
Staggering the end dates of the state and federal moratoriums, Sisolak said, will allow landlords to begin eviction proceedings but keep people in their homes until the end of June.
“We want an opportunity for - after the 60 days expires - that a landlord can go in and start to file papers. Nobody will get evicted while the C.D.C. moratorium is in place … but it’ll get our process started while the clock runs on the C.D.C. moratorium,” he said.
Associated Press writer Ken Ritter contributed reporting from Las Vegas.
Sam Metz is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.
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