Today, the Arizona leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), The United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ, the Grand Canyon and de Cristo Presbyteries, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, the African American Christian Clergy Coalition, and The Episcopal Church jointly sent the following letter to Carol Ditmore, Director of the Arizona Department of Housing:
Dear Director Ditmore,
We, the leaders of several church bodies in Arizona, write to ask you, in the name of God’s commandment to love your neighbor as yourself,
- To extend the moratorium on evictions due to COVID-19 beyond the current July 22 deadline;
- To streamline and simplify the process for applying for COVID-19 rental relief;
- To advocate for the increase of funds available for COVID-19 rental relief.
When you graciously created this moratorium back in March, none of us knew exactly what track the pandemic would take in Arizona. Now that it is clear the virus is having long-term and substantial effects on our economy, our employment rates, and our health care system, it is time to respond with the same sort of compassion you demonstrated at the beginning of the pandemic.
Recent reports indicate that out of 16,000 applications, only 962 have been approved and over 6500 have been ruled incomplete. This data indicates the process is not accessible to the significant number of Arizonans who have suffered job losses and economic fallout from the pandemic. Streamlining and simplifying the application process for this rent relief would enable more tenants to pay their rent—making landlords whole, and no longer in the difficult position of choosing between turning people out on the streets and their own livelihoods. The remaining $4 million of the allocated funds for this program is only useful if it gets into the hands of tenants, and then to their landlords.
Increasing the amount of money available for the COVID-19 rental relief program is urgently needed, given the number of businesses that have relied on PPP funds to keep people employed, or that have closed. Another round of layoffs and furloughs is likely when PPP funds run out, which will push more people to untenable choice between paying their rent and feeding their families.
As Christian leaders, we believe all people have a right to the most basic needs of human life: food, water, and shelter. It is in your power to ensure that the most economically vulnerable Arizonans do not end up as secondary victims to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Right Rev. Jennifer A. Reddall
Sixth Episcopal Bishop of Arizona
On behalf of:
The Rev. Deborah K. Hutterer
Bishop, Grand Canyon Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Rev. Jay R. Hartley
Regional Minister and President
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Arizona
The Rev. Dr. Robert T. Hoshibata
The Desert Southwest Conference
The United Methodist Church
Rev. Dr. William M. Lyons, Conference Minister
Southwest Conference of the United Church of Christ
The Rev. Brad Munroe
Pastor to the Presbytery
Grand Canyon and de Cristo Presbyteries
The Most Reverend Eduardo Nevares
Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix
Dr. Warren H. Stewart, Sr., Chairperson
African American Christian Clergy Coalition
cc: Governor Doug Ducey
Cristina Corieri, Senior Policy Advisor to the Governor
Director Maria Christina Fuentes, Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith, and Families