ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Hundreds, if not thousands, of New Mexicans, are wondering how they’ll be able to pay their rent. More people are getting eviction notices, and experts warn it is only going to get worse as the pandemic continues.
The CARES Act recently ended, which banned evictions for those living in federal housing. Plus, unemployment benefits have ended. That’s left people relying on the state’s stay on evictions, but it is unclear how long that will last.
Stacy Burleson said she’s lived at her Albuquerque apartment complex for nearly a year with no problems. “No problems,” Burleson said. “Once the pandemic hit, then I started having issues.”
She’s been out of work since May, unable to pay rent and struggling to provide for her twins and grandchild. “It’s been very difficult for me,” Burleson said. “I have been so stressed out. I have been in the hospital at least twice every month since then from just being stressed out on how to get it paid.”
She and others at her complex received a 30-day eviction notice late last month. Plus, they received a three-day notice to fork up thousands in unpaid rent. “A lot of people are in the same situation where they are not able to pay their rent for whatever reason,” Burleson said.
Lindsay Cutler with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty said this is happening to people across New Mexico every day. Right now, if people get evicted, they can go to court and prove to a judge that they can’t pay due to the pandemic and be allowed to stay.
However, she expects when the Supreme Court lifts the stay on evictions, presumably when the public health emergency ends, tens of thousands of people will be homeless statewide. “We have had an increase in folks calling us,” Cutler said. “They said they are receiving three-day notices, eviction notices… People are starting to really panic.”
Cutler said they called on lawmakers to pass a rent relief fund in the special session in June, but she said nothing happened with it. She said that’s left people like Burleson financially strapped and filled with uncertainty. “I think people should be given chances,” Burleson said. “I don’t think they should be allowed to be put out on the streets like that.”
Burleson said she has been trying to find work for months and recently picked up a part-time job that she hopes will help out. The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty said that landlords don’t have it easy either and said the rent relief fund would help everyone if lawmakers step up.