Utah’s ban on evictions is set to expire Friday, but a federal moratorium applies to several Summit County apartment complexes
These properties are subject to a federal eviction moratorium that effectively lasts until late August.
New Park Studios
CROWN at Summit Mountain
*Source: Summit County
Others properties that have federally backed loans or were created using some federal programs may be subject to the moratorium. The National Low Income Housing Coalition has a list of some of these properties at nlihc.org/federal-moratoriums.
The first tentative steps toward economic reopening in Summit County started early this month, but even as some workers see money start to trickle back into their households, the bills they may have been unable to pay in recent months continue to accumulate.
For some, concerns over paying rent have trumped the health risks that come with the deadly pandemic, housing advocates have said, and on Friday, Gov. Gary Herbert’s order banning evictions in the state is set to expire.
But many local apartment complexes are subject to an eviction stay issued by the federal government, said Jeff Jones, the county’s housing and economic development director, meaning those residents could not be forced out of their homes for nonpayment of rent until late August.
The properties in Summit County include large apartment complexes like Aspen Villas Apartments, Iron Horse Park, Elk Meadows Apartments and Liberty Peak Apartments. The moratorium covers many properties that used federal programs like low-income tax credits or have federally backed loans through lenders like Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
That might be welcome news to people who have months of bills stacking up and limited income, especially among those who work in hard-hit business sectors like the hotel and restaurant industries.
Dalia Gonzalez, Summit County’s multicultural communications outreach specialist, said that some people she’s spoken with drained their savings to pay everyday bills, then turned to community resources like the Christian Center of Park City for assistance.
Summit County’s Latino population is disproportionately represented in some of the hospitality industries that have been hit hardest by the pandemic.
“For the Latino community, it is something of high thought,” Gonzalez said. “They’re fearful — is there going to be a moment I’m going to be asked to leave, am I going to have to pay a penalty, am I going to lose a deposit I had placed.”
The federal CARES Act includes an eviction moratorium for nonpayment of rent that began March 27 and lasts for 120 days, until late July. A landlord must give 30 days notice before eviction, Jones said, meaning a resident cannot be removed until Aug. 24.
Rent still must be paid, however, and the amount owed grows each month. For some residents, a payment of thousands of dollars might come due sometime this summer just as they start to regain financial stability.
The three-bedroom apartments in the Iron Horse Park apartment complex rent for $1,515 per month, according to its property manager Powell Smith, and all 94 are occupied. Smith said the residents have been concerned about mounting bills. Iron Horse is offering a rent deferral program that allows residents to repay past-due rent on a payment plan over six or 12 months, he said. He added that Iron Horse is not pursuing evictions for nonpayment of rent and is not planning to start doing so.
“Especially right now, we are very understanding of the situation,” Powell said. “We have no intentions to take any punitive action at this time, pending a massive issue.”
Gonzalez said that such efforts are a step in the right direction, but added that she hoped payment plans landlords allow will not include fees or penalties, pointing out that people will be repaying overdue rent while still making current rent payments, all in what will likely remain a struggling economy.
According to the National Multifamily Housing Council, 31% of Americans failed to pay April rent by April 5, while 20% failed to pay May rent by May 5. Nearly 95% of the 11.5 million apartments the council sampled paid April’s rent by the end of the month, however, suggesting the impact of federal stimulus payments reaching struggling households, according to a press release. Undocumented workers did not receive stimulus money.
Gonzalez said Summit County is ill-equipped to support people who lose housing, with no homeless shelter and an already-taxed nonprofit community. The closest resources are in the Salt Lake Valley, she added.
Local nonprofit Mountainlands Community Housing Trust has a transitional housing program, but its offerings are down to two units, according to housing resources coordinator Daniela Lo Feudo. There are families in both of those units, Lo Feudo said, and 15 households on the waitlist. She said she refers people seeking assistance to other community resources like Utah Community Action.
She added that she has not heard of evictions happening in the community.
The pandemic makes it an especially dangerous time to be homeless, Gonzalez said, with social distancing guidelines harder to follow.
For some Iron Horse residents, Smith said, concerns about rent have surpassed those of the virus, even after officials identified the complex as a hot spot for COVID-19 last month.
“People were very concerned, obviously. The first month there was fear, uncertainty,” Smith said. “Concerns about finances trumped those pretty quickly.”
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