Pima County pilot program aims to reduce evictions

Pima County pilot program aims to reduce evictions

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - There are 13,000 evictions in Pima County every year which can lead to a social crisis, straining public services, law enforcement and damaging the well being of thousands of families.

Kristen Randall, a constable in Precinct 8, is one of those who convinced the county to try something new.

Instead of showing up at the front door of someone being evicted, telling them they've got 15 minutes to leave, she now gets paper work five days, or even up to a week, before the eviction takes effect.

That gives the person or family, days to work out something with the landlord, come up with the money to pay the back rent, find a new place or find social service assistance.

Randall carries a stack of eviction notices as she enters an apartment complex in mid town, a stack she gets every day.

“Ninety percent can’t make their court date,” she said. “That’s because of kids, they have work, they don’t have transportation.”

When they don't show up, they have a judgment against them, the landlord wins.

But now, when she shows up, they can offer services, like those found in a booklet she hands out, some of them offering cash assistance to keep them in their homes.

"I have faith in social programs," she says. "I have faith government can make a difference, that's why I do what I do."

But knocking on doors can be dangerous.

"This is a very bad day in their life," she said. "So sometimes they take it out on me."

She has to take every threat seriously.

"I have to because sometimes there are very serious threats," she says. "I've had to call the police."

But those threats are fewer and farther between because what she's offering is help, not a notice to get out quickly.

"When I'm coming to your moment of greatest need asking you what you need," she said. "I think that's powerful."

A trained hydrologist, she gave up that secure career for this one, an elected official.

"I never saw myself as a politician," she said.

County officials will determine if the program is a success once the it ends its pilot stage in February.

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