Updated: July 26, 2020 10:33 PM
Created: July 26, 2020 09:04 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — With pandemic unemployment assistance coming to an end, lawmakers are worried that families may soon have to make a difficult choice between paying bills and putting food on the table. The assistance came in the form of an extra $600 a week from the CARES Act.
“Our fear is that already, on top of already, the homelessness that exists evictions are going to be that much greater and we're going to face an extreme amount of homelessness if we don't address this issue,” said Rep. Angelica Rubio (D-District 35).
Bill McCamley, secretary of the Department of Workforce Solutions, said people on unemployment will still receive their state benefits, but that amount could vary from $87 a week to a maximum of $461.
“There could be a gap in benefits starting that first week of August and we just want everyone to be aware that that is a possibility,” McCamley said.
Rep. Rubio and Rep. Andrea Romero (D-District 46) are calling on the state to act fast to help save New Mexican families.
"The folks who are listening and who are reading what we're sharing, they need to contact the governor's office. They need to contact the governors office and insist that the funding we have through the federal level from the CARES Act, that a significant amount of that be used for housing relief," Rep. Rubio said.
According to the Center of Law and Poverty, 50% of New Mexican renters spend more than 30% or more of their income on rent.
While there is a moratorium on evictions, the concern is that it may not stop the problem.
“Eviction proceedings are going on and if the renter doesn't assert her or his rights under the moratorium to not be physically removed from the property, then the tenant can be physically removed from the property,” said Stephanie Welch, Director of Worker’s Rights at the Center of Law and Poverty.
Rep. Rubio said now is the time to act if you might be vulnerable.
“The first step is absolutely, one, recognizing that they’re going to have some issues financially, reach out to the landlords as soon as possible and just have an open conversation and negotiation with the landlord,” she said.
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