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Proposed ordinance would prevent evictions in Anchorage through September

Photo: Courtesy of MGN/Tony Magpantay
Photo: Courtesy of MGN/Tony Magpantay(WHSV)
Published: Jul. 25, 2020 at 7:28 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage Assembly Chair Felix Rivera is proposing a moratorium on evictions in Anchorage to prevent what he believes will be a massive influx of evictions come August.

“A lot of different groups like the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation have warned that if we don’t do anything, we’re going to see an eviction tsunami,” he said.

Citing a Colorado-based study, Rivera said roughly one in five renters in America will be at risk of being evicted once expanded unemployment benefits and a moratorium on evictions from the CARES act expire at the end of July. To prevent that in Anchorage, Rivera sponsored an ordinance, up for public hearing on July 28, that would put a moratorium on evictions until September 30. He argued this would give people time to connect with rental assistance services being run by the state and municipality, as well as legal resources for renters.

“We need to take a multitude of different strategies,” he said.

But that one-in-five statistic is an estimate for numbers nationwide. In Anchorage, Real Property Management President Kassandra Taggart says the numbers of people at-risk of eviction are a bit lower.

“It’s actually sitting around 10 to 15% not paying,” she said. “And the majority of that 10, 15% not paying, did enter into payment arrangements.”

Taggart, who also hosts The Landlord’s Almanac, pointed to those numbers, and a poor reception from landlords, as points against the moratorium.

“Many of the landlords are not in favor of it,” she said. “And honestly, I’m not so sure that it’s necessarily needed right now.”

She also raised concerns about whether the Assembly has the authority to place a moratorium on evictions, something that came up when a similar ordinance failed in March.

“The landlord-tenant act is one, it’s a state-regulated law,” she said. “And the second portion to that is the people who enforce it are the judges regulated by the state, and they’re in a different branch of government.”

According to Rivera, the ordinance is only part of the strategy he’d like to employ to help prevent the eviction tsunami and get rent payments to landlords, a strategy that leans heavily on recommendations from the National League of Cities.

“The National League of Cities, they have done a lot of research on this, and they’ve put together a list of six different tactics that cities can use to stave off what everyone’s worried about that’s going to come in August, this eviction tsunami.”

He added that he plans to lay a resolution on the table listing off those six different tactics, which are:

  • Keeping websites up-to-date with resources for renters and landlords.
  • Boosting rental assistance
  • A moratorium on evictions
  • Direct government financial assistance for legal aid
  • The courts being able to negotiate agreements between landlords and tenants
  • Convening different housing entities to figure out long-term plans

The ordinance will be up for public comment at the Assembly’s July 28 meeting. Due to a new emergency order limiting gathering sizes, the public will not be able to enter the chambers. You can request to be called for comment during the meeting, or submit written comments by emailing Testimony@anchorageak.gov.

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