PIMA COUNTY, ARIZONA — The Pima County Board of Supervisors at its Dec. 7 meeting approved a one-year master agreement valued at up to $425,000 with four law firms to provide legal services to qualifying tenants who are facing eviction in Pima County.
The aim of the contract is to help tenants who cannot afford legal counsel during the eviction process. The contract will be overseen by the Office of Emergency Eviction Legal Services, or EELS, within Pima County’s Department of Community & Workforce Development.
The master agreement, which was approved on a 4-1 vote, was needed because EELS’ current legal contracts expire Dec. 31. The new agreement would be in effect for all of 2022.
In a memo to the board dated Dec. 3, Andrew Flagg, Community & Workforce Development's deputy director who oversees the EELS office, said the program is expected to refer more than 1,500 tenants to lawyers next year for representation or assistance in eviction cases.
Flagg added that four law firms were contracted in an effort to provide sufficient capacity to handle the anticipated number of eviction cases.
"Through contracts with nonprofits and private lawyers, the Office of Emergency Eviction Legal Services provides access to justice to tenants facing eviction. In the first three months of operation, the office served nearly 400 households,” Flagg said. “The master agreement approved today will allow Pima County to continue to provide these services to hundreds more households in 2022.”
The firms contracted in the agreement are Southern Arizona Legal Aid, the Ferguson Hill law firm and the law firm of Paul Gattone, all of Tucson, as well as Barton Mendez Soto of Tempe.
Pima County, in partnership with the City of Tucson and the nonprofit Community Investment Corporation, has, as of Dec. 7, handled nearly 7,600 local cases and distributed nearly $38 million in rental assistance and more than $3.6 million in utility assistance since March. About 5,000 cases remain in the pipeline for aid.
Landlords can apply for rental and utility assistance on behalf of their tenants, but households must also take part in the process in order to verify that they meet the income requirements for eligibility.
Tenants or landlords who want to apply or learn more about rental and utility assistance can go to TucsonPimaEP.com.
Any tenants facing eviction who want to request legal aid are encouraged to contact the Office of Emergency Eviction Legal Services by going to www.pima.gov/EvictionLegalServices or by calling (520) 724-3357.