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  • Pima County establishes hotline to help with rental assistance amid COVID-19

    Apr 22, 2020 | Read More News
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    House interiorThe Pima County Community Action Agency has a new hotline to serve those seeking aid from the COVID-19 Rental Eviction Assistance Program that is funded through the Arizona Department of Housing.

    Eligibility information and the application is available at the Department of Housing website.

    Individuals are urged to complete the online application, but those without internet access can call the state’s 2-1-1 hotline for assistance.
    1. Press 8 for COVID-19
    2. Pick a language, press 1 or 2
    3. Press 5 for Eviction Prevention
    The new Pima County CAA Hotline is 520-724-2505.

    Staffers will answer questions regarding the status of an application, provide forms that are required for processing, offer direction and assistance to submit pending information, and direct applicants to other resources.

    “What we’re seeing now is that people who never, ever had to apply for any type of assistance, we’re getting a bunch of those calls coming in as they try to understand how do I become eligible and what is required of me,” said Pima County CAA program manager Manira Cervantes.

    “Gathering all that documentation, in itself, can be stressful, especially for people who are not used to doing so or because they are under stress due to COVID. That is a whole new population that we’re dealing with. So, it’s educating them and reassuring them that we’re here for them.”

    Much more information about legal resources and potential benefits from the Rental Eviction Assistance Program is available at this flyer for What Tenants Need to Know During COVID-19.

    After an individual applies with documentation, the Community Action Agency provides a review for accuracy and completeness before doing an initial phone interview.

    “Once we do the phone interview, we definitely want to make sure they meet the criteria and determine what information may be missing, what the next steps are and ensuring that the landlords are willing to work with the clients,” Cervantes said.

    Callers seeking rental, mortgage or utility assistance that is not related to the COVID-19 pandemic should call CAA’s regular hotline, 520-724-2667, that is answered Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

    The COVID-19 Rental Eviction Assistance Program is a first-come, first-served program. Demand is greater than available funding and capacity.

    The What Tenants Need to Know During COVID-19 flyer includes a link to a sample letter to send to your landlord if you believe you are protected by Arizona governor Doug Ducey’s executive order postponing evictions for those affected financially or medically by the coronavirus.

    “We want to emphasize if you can make a payment, please do so,” Cervantes said. “If you can’t at all, we’re here for you. Once we get a client in, we are going to make every attempt to provide wraparound services.”

    Those services include utility assistance, referrals to discount programs and connecting people with county resources regarding employment opportunities, job training and help accessing unemployment benefits.

    In setting up the new hotline, the Community Action Agency is also utilizing trained staffers from the Pima County Housing Center, the Pima County Library and Las Artes to help process the applications to the Rental Eviction Assistance Program.

    “We’re getting a lot of positive feedback and people understanding that we’re all in this together,” Cervantes said. “I’m proud to be working with our staff. We’ve all come together to really help everybody in this uncertain time.

    “We’re trying to navigate through new funding programs and policies, and people really do want to know they are being heard. We’re definitely here for them.”