White House applauds New Mexico’s eviction prevention efforts

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — For many families, keeping a roof over their heads has been a major concern throughout the pandemic.

Now, New Mexico is being recognized as a leader in efforts to keep as many people as possible from losing their homes. 

“Addressing the housing situation is an absolutely critical part of reinvigorating communities,” said U.S. Attorney General Vanita Gupta at a virtual White House summit Tuesday. 

The focus was on preventing people from getting evicted from their homes as pandemic policies start to ease. 

“The department’s been spearheading an effort to promote the use of court-based eviction strategies,” said Gupta.  

The New Mexico Supreme Court put evictions on hold starting in 2020. The moratorium was only fully lifted statewide last month.

And as the end of the moratorium rolled out, so did the Eviction Prevention and Diversion program. 

“At the outset of the eviction filing, we have navigators identified who reach out to tenants and landlords to encourage participation in the program,” said NM Supreme Court Chief Justice C. Shannon Bacon.

For those who opt-in, eviction proceedings are put on pause.

Participants can secure Emergency Rental Assistance Program funds, which were made available under the American Rescue Plan to help cover rent, utilities, and moving costs. 

“The navigators are key to the success of this program. The navigators work hand in hand with the tenant to help them apply for the funding. Help them navigate what can be a complicated process,” said Bacon.   

The program is now available statewide. 

Since its start, Bacon says the program distributed $148 million to more than 44,000 households.

“We are really proud of this work, but it’s just the start. A subgroup of the task force is working on legislative reform to make space within the eviction scheme in New Mexico for programs like the eviction prevention and diversion program. Making that the norm and making participation mandatory,” Bacon said.