Today is Monday June 1st, 2020, and rent is due for thousands of Phoenix tenants who continue to struggle in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Though our governor Doug Doucey has instructed the state to reopen for business, tenants are still suffering the staggering cost of weeks spent sheltering in place. We have been staying home without pay, and without any guarantees that we will ever get our jobs back.
Many have received unemployment insurance assistance, but many more have been denied.
While Mayor Kate Gallego and the City of Phoenix is quickly spending its COVID-19 windfall on infrastructure, families are struggling not just to keep food on the table, but a roof over their head. And while temperatures rise, new health concerns are mounting.
We are facing an unprecedented housing crisis, with thousands at risk of being displaced.
Though our state representatives have rushed to reassure us that we will be safe, the message is not clear nor confident.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, put out the following press release concerning renters and COVID-19:
It states that evictions will not take place, but in reality, that is far from the truth. Doug Doucey’s executive order does nothing to stop evictions, and only delays their enforcement at the discretion of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.
Unfortunately, evictions have been taking place throughout Maricopa County, and landlords and developers alike are often intimidating their tenants to pay up or get out, leaving families and tenants of all backgrounds in fear of losing their home.
If you are unable to pay rent this month or at risk of eviction, you are not alone.
In an effort to help tenants organize against predatory landlords, the Phoenix Tenants Union has compiled the following steps:
Step 1: Join the Phoenix Tenant Union: Like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, and Twitter. We are not collecting dues at the moment, and as long as you are connected with us through social media, you are a member. We win when we are many.
Step 2: Send the Southern AZ National Lawyers Guild letter of nonpayment to your landlord. It’s available at https://bit.ly/phxtulandlordletter. Make sure to cc firstname.lastname@example.org and copy your Phoenix City Council Member as well to keep them notified of your situation. We also encourage your send the letter to your landlord via certified mail.
Step 3: Tell your neighbors about the Phoenix Tenants Union, and invite them to join. Spread the word about our movement. We are stronger together.
Lastly, we need to send questions to the Phoenix City Council and participate in council meetings until we see a true response based on the HUD message. Tenants deserve to receive relief from an intolerable situation that places them in another risk to their health: homelessness. We did not ask to stay at home and lose our jobs. We did our civic duty to help flatten the curve, and it is up to the City to follow suit and indemnify tenants against a wave of wrongful evictions.
In solidarity with all tenants in Phoenix and beyond,
Phoenix Tenants Union