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Gov. Little discourages Idaho landlords from evicting renters amid coronavirus pandemic

The comments came during an AARP virtual town hall meeting, which covered a number of topics related to Idahoans' fears and concerns over the pandemic.
Credit: AARP Idaho
Gov. Little takes part in a telephone town hall, hosted by AARP Idaho on Tuesday, March 31, 2020.

BOISE, Idaho — Gov. Brad Little joined state health experts and department leaders in a telephone town hall meeting, which was streamed live on Facebook Tuesday afternoon.

The town hall, hosted by AARP Idaho, took calls from Idahoans concerned about the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

Topics covered included the shortage of personal protective equipment, concerns about overloading hospitals' capacity to care for patients, as well as economic-related issues such as unemployment benefits.

The governor also answered a question from a woman who is being threatened with eviction, a concern for many in Idaho who have lost their jobs during the outbreak. The concern is particularly poignant right now because rent is due for thousands of Idaho renters on Wednesday, April 1.

RELATED: Boise City Council asking for state action on evictions

When asked if anything is being done to protect renters from eviction, Little said he is considering it and strongly discouraged landlords from evicting tenants who are behind on rent.

"I have been telling landlords that given the turmoil that's taking place in the market it might not be the smartest thing for them to do to evict somebody, because there might not be anybody there to take their place," Little said. "We are still seriously considering [taking action]. But we're working in conjunction with the courts to see what's in the queue out there.

"I kinda think it's just bad policy for people on a very short notice to be evicted, given the state of things right now," he added.

The governor noted that the CARES Act - a $2.2 trillion economic relief package passed by Congress last week - provides loans for commercial landlords through the Small Business Administration. However, there is no immediate relief for individual landlords.

"If your landlord is an individual, there are programs that are going to be coming," Little said. "I don't think they're in this bill.

"But there will probably be more forthcoming both from the federal government and what we're doing here in the state," he said.

RELATED: Many Boise renters out of work due to COVID-19 as rent payments loom

RELATED: Idaho Department of Labor 'overloaded with calls' about unemployment benefits

Little also took a question about when houses of worship may be able to hold in-person services once again. Given his statewide stay-at-home order, he urged religious leaders to hold services online.

"We want to facilitate that as much as we can," he said. "My heart goes out, particularly in the Easter season for people, that that spiritual rejuvenation and strength that they get that they don't have [with the stay-home order].

"But given this scenario, we have to maintain this order," he added. "We are allowing the online delivery. I know in my parish, we're a little old fashioned, and it's gonna be a new experience for us to have online delivery of our spiritual health, but I know a lot of denominations are working on it."

RELATED: North Idaho lawmaker still holding church services after 2 members test positive for coronavirus

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