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Arizona U.S. representatives ask Gov. Ducey to address housing issues

(Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Arizona’s five Democratic representatives in the U.S. House are calling on Gov. Doug Ducey to extend housing relief in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reps. Raul Grijalva, Ann Kirkpatrick, Ruben Gallego, Greg Stanton and Tom O’Halleran sent a letter to Ducey on Wednesday asking the governor to answer their questions about the state’s efforts to assist those in need of housing relief.

“As you know, the CARES Act included a $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRFf) for state, local, and tribal governments to help broadly cover expenses occurred due to the public health emergency created by COVID-19,” the letter says.

“States were given broad discretion for the use of this funding, with Arizona receiving nearly $1.9 billion to provide assistance to keep our constituents safe.”

The five representatives say they are concerned funding has been diverted away from additional housing and rental assistance, instead going to agencies that weren’t meant to be included in the act.

The letter cites data from the Arizona Department of Housing’s COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program showing that 2,300 applications for rental and housing assistance have been approved as of Dec. 4, out of close to 31,000 applicants, with an additional 3,800 getting non-state aid.

The letter asks Ducey about replenishing an emergency fund to help renters struggling during the pandemic, providing additional funds for a program aimed at preventing rental evictions, extending the eviction moratorium and making sure marginalized populations in the state have the same access to benefits.

“We understand the dire need for additional federal assistance for housing issues,” the letter says. “However, we must ensure that the funding allocated to Arizona is being used urgently, fairly, and effectively, as Congress intended.”

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