As Nevada and the nation continue to contend with the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Steve Sisolak (D), Attorney General Aaron Ford (D), and Treasurer Zach Conine (D) announced a moratorium on home evictions for the duration of the state’s coronavirus (non-essential) business shutdown. As to why the state is taking this action now, Sisolak stressed, “This is not the time to put people out on the streets, which will only result in an increased risk of infection and more strain on our health care system.”
Why is this happening?
As we’ve previously discussed, the novel coronavirus pandemic has not only resulted in 738 positively tested COVID-19 patients and 15 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths in Nevada (as of this morning), but it’s also wreaking havoc on Nevada’s economy. While Congress’ new coronavirus relief package will provide some assistance to Nevadans in the form of $1,200+ “corona checks”, expanded unemployment insurance payouts, and expanded Small Business Administration grants and loans, multiple experts have warned that it likely won’t be enough to counter the coronavirus’ increasingly severe attack on Nevada’s and the nation’s economy.
Against this troubling backdrop, over 20 organizations sent a letter to Sisolak last week urging a statewide moratorium on evictions. Nevadans experiencing homelessness were already facing trouble finding shelter before the COVID-19 outbreak, and now they’re having even more trouble finding places that comply with the state’s social distancing guidelines.
While some landlords and mortgage holders have voluntarily offered relief to (rent) tenants and (mortgage) borrowers, others have threatened eviction if they don’t pay up by the next due date. This probably explains why Sisolak’s most recent online live streams have featured commenters demanding that the State of Nevada act on these eviction threats. And since other states, such as California, have offered various eviction delays and moratoriums, Nevada is following suit.
“This decision was made because this is not the time to put people out on the streets, which will only result in an increased risk of infection and more strain on our health care system.”
– Governor Steve Sisolak
In explaining his decision to act on these eviction threats, Sisolak explained, “This decision was made because this is not the time to put people out on the streets, which will only result in an increased risk of infection and more strain on our health care system.”
Sisolak then specified that this applies to residential and commercial evictions. He also made clear that landlords can continue to evict tenants who prove to be a danger to other residents and/or lessees. On that note, Sisolak warned, “This does not constitute free rent or mortgage. […] This does not end contractual obligations to landlords or mortgage holders.”
Governor Sisolak discusses housing stability amid COVID-19 public health crisis.
Posted by Governor Steve Sisolak on Sunday, March 29, 2020
Sisolak, Conine, and Ford then explained what this actually means. For renters, the moratorium will apply for the duration of the state’s order for non-essential businesses to close. For mortgage borrowers, Conine announced that most lenders have committed to a 90 day forbearance with no late fees or negative marks on borrowers’ credit scores. Sisolak also made clear that the state will not allow landlords to charge any late fees to renters for the duration of the business shutdown.
Ford then announced that the Nevada Attorney General’s Office is providing $2 million in state settlement funds to United Way for COVID-19 emergency food and shelter programs. On that, Ford noted, “I know what it’s like to grow up in fear that your lights won’t turn on, or even worse, that your family might end up homeless. No child should have to go through that, and no adult should be saddled with these issues during an already stressful pandemic.”
“I know what it’s like to grow up in fear that your lights won’t turn on, or even worse, that your family might end up homeless. No child should have to go through that, and no adult should be saddled with these issues during an already stressful pandemic.”
– Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford
Following their big announcement on rent and mortgage relief, Sisolak, Ford, and Conine took some questions from reporters who managed to make it to the Grant Sawyer Building in Las Vegas to cover the event in person. Sisolak confirmed that Nevada is still struggling with limited supplies of coronavirus test kits and medical equipment, and he noted that the state is having more success negotiating with private entities for necessary supplies than the Trump administration.
And on questions of whether Nevada will adopt the kind of “shelter in place” orders that California, Illinois, New York, and a few other state and local authorities now have in place, Sisolak sidestepped the linguistics and instead pleaded with Nevadans, “If we stay home for Nevada, we can stop the spread of this virus.” Moments earlier, Sisolak declared, “This virus can not spread on its own. It can only spread if we can facilitate it.”
While President Donald Trump just committed to extending federal social distancing recommendations to April 30 (after his earlier promise to end these guidelines by April 12), Sisolak again warned that Nevada will only end the business shutdown and other emergency rules when medical professionals deem it safe to allow for crowds again.
If you’re in need of medical treatment, contact your primary health care provider first. If you fear you can’t afford treatment from a hospital or doctor’s office, check with the Southern Nevada Health District, Washoe County Health District, Carson City Health and Human Services, or the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services for resources in your area. For additional aid, check the Nevada Current’s and Battle Born Progress’ respective resource guides. If you can afford proper treatment and you are fortunate enough to help others in need, please donate to national operations like Mutual Aid Disaster Relief and local groups like Three Square.
Cover Photo Credit: Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak discusses measures to help the public with housing stability amid the COVID-19 public health crisis at the Grant Sawyer Building in Las Vegas, Sunday, March 29, 2020. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae