OGDEN — The Ogden City Council will likely consider a resolution that would urge the state of Utah to implement a 60-day moratorium on all evictions, as fallout continues amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Council Chair Angela Choberka said she was approached by the Ogden Civic Action Network, or OgdenCAN, about possibly passing the resolution. OgdenCAN is an alliance of several anchor institutions, founded by Weber State University, involving stakeholders and partner organizations committed to aligning resources for improving health, housing and education among the 15,000 residents of Ogden’s east-central neighborhood.
Choberka said the theory behind the idea is relatively straightforward. Temporarily halting evictions, she said, would not only provide relief to those who will suffer financial hardships during the pandemic, but it will also help prevent the spread of disease by allowing people to remain isolated in their own homes. People who might face evictions during the crisis would be forced to move in with friends or family or even homeless shelter facilities, which would compound the problem of spreading the disease because there would be more people in confined spaces.
“It’s not something we can enact on our own,” Choberka said. “But we could help promote it at a state level.”
Council Executive Director Janene Eller-Smith said she didn’t see any issues with the council passing such a resolution, so long as it only supports the idea and doesn’t bind the city to any specific actions.
The majority of the seven member council say they are in support of the idea, though council members Rich Hyer and Bart Blair said they have some concerns with it.
Hyer said he’s worried the measure would simply shift a financial burden from one party to another, taking pressure off homeowners and renters but putting it squarely on landlords and mortgage companies or banks.
“I think to just say, ‘OK, were going to just get on the side of people who are late on their mortgage’ without getting on the side of who they are late to, could be a problem,” Hyer said.
Blair said he was worried about how long the leniency would be allowed and had concerns of it being extended if the crisis continues to worsen.
Council member Ben Nadolski said he understands the concerns but comes at the issue from a “desperate times call for desperate measures” standpoint.
“I understand where Rich and Bart are coming from,” Nadolski said. “But I’m viewing it from the context of public health and the overall public good.”
Eller-Smith said council staff would look to draft a resolution that could be voted on at next week’s council meeting.