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As protections expire, Vegas faces potential eviction crisis

August 17, 2020 GMT

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Las Vegas is facing a potential evictions crisis as residents struggle to make rent amid the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a recent study.

Job losses, a high number of renters, the lifting of the state eviction freeze and the recent expiration of federal unemployment benefits combine for a potential crisis in the city, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Las Vegas research group Guinn Center and the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project in Denver have estimated 249,700 people in Clark County, or more than 10% of its population, are at risk of eviction starting next month.

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“It’s just sort of a bad confluence of events,” said Nancy Brune, Guinn Center executive director.

An estimated 40 million people could be at risk of eviction nationwide, according to a report by the Aspen Institute think tank.

Brune believes Las Vegas could be hit harder as fewer people are coming to southern Nevada, a place travelers frequented for gambling, partying and networking in masses in close quarters. Brune said 47% of households in Clark County are renters, and it is estimated that 38% of renters are unemployed.

Nonpayment of rent is the most common cause for eviction. The state’s Legislature last year extended the timeline tenants have after receiving an eviction notice to pay their overdue rent, move out or initiate a court case. However, tenants can still be evicted in 15 days after rent is missed.

Nevada State Apartment Association Executive Director Susy Vasquez has said landlords will pursue evictions against tenants who have not been in communication with management or did not lose their jobs but opted not to pay their rent during the state’s eviction freeze.

Nevada health officials reported 662 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the statewide total to almost 62,000. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

Five more deaths were also reported, to bring the total to 1,077.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms for up to three weeks. But older adults and people with existing health problems can face severe illness and death. The vast majority of people recover.

The seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Nevada was 14.2% as of Saturday, according to the most recent state data. The World Health Organization goal is 5%.

Nevada officials last week promised a task force will finalize plans Thursday to lower the possibility of contracting the virus in six high-risk counties, including those around the cities of Las Vegas and Reno.