Record editorial: Community must act to prevent eviction crisis
A crisis within the crisis may be looming in Park City.
Late last month, Congress allowed a federal moratorium on evictions to lapse, a protection that applied to several large apartment complexes locally that house a significant percentage of Park City’s service industry workers. The residents are Parkites who, broadly, have already suffered some of the most severe consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, through lost jobs, reduced wages and financial insecurity.
The expiration of the moratorium, local nonprofit officials warn, could open the door to something our community has fortunately been spared thus far amid these last months of upheaval: evictions on a significant scale, a prospect that, even during a sharp economic downturn, is jarring in a place that is among the most affluent in the country. And it’s not surprising, given the socio-economic realities in Park City, that those at risk of losing their homes are disproportionately Latino.
What can be done to protect them?
For one, Congress could include another moratorium in the next anticipated federal relief package, though it would take lawmakers overcoming an impasse over what else should be included in the legislation. That solution seems less likely by the day as Senate Republicans stand firm in their opposition to renewing the $600 weekly payments for unemployed workers and other measures meant to keep Americans on their feet.
Failing that — or an executive order reinstating the moratorium, which the president has indicated he may pursue if Congress cannot soon pass a relief bill — shielding Parkites from homelessness will require local action.
Summit County has detailed plans to direct $1 million in federal aid money to families that have experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic. That money, hopefully, will go a long way to making sure all families can remain in their homes.
Our nonprofit sector will also play an important role, with the Park City Community Foundation and the Christian Center of Park City, two organizations among many that have led our response to the coronavirus so far, pledging to help families make housing payments. But the money has to come from somewhere: Parkites who have the financial means should donate to the cause.
We are also encouraged by the empathy of landlords who are electing to create payment plans for tenants rather than serve them eviction notices. No doubt, landlords, be they property management companies or individuals, have also been put in a financial bind by the pandemic. But their compassion will change lives.
Like with every other aspect of the pandemic, there are no easy solutions. But no one, not a single person, should be thrust into homelessness because of a global health crisis far out of their control.
And if Congress can’t provide that assurance for Park City’s most vulnerable residents, we must, as a community, step up and do so.
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