SENATE BILL 257
54th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - second session, 2020
Gerald Ortiz y Pino and Debra M. Sariñana
RELATING TO HOMELESSNESS; ENACTING THE EVICTION PREVENTION ACT; PROVIDING POWERS AND DUTIES; RECOGNIZING THAT HOMELESSNESS AFFECTS SCHOOL ATTENDANCE, INCREASES STUDENT MOBILITY AND CONTRIBUTES TO CHILDHOOD TRAUMA, WHICH ARE INDICATORS THAT A STUDENT IS AT RISK OF FAILURE; ESTABLISHING A PROGRAM IN THE NEW MEXICO MORTGAGE FINANCE AUTHORITY TO PROVIDE GRANTS TO PROVIDE RENT ASSISTANCE FOR QUALIFYING FAMILIES WITH SCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN WHO ARE IN DANGER OF BEING MADE HOMELESS BY EVICTION; MAKING AN APPROPRIATION.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO:
SECTION 1. [NEW MATERIAL] SHORT TITLE.--This act may be cited as the "Eviction Prevention Act".
SECTION 2. [NEW MATERIAL] DEFINITIONS.--As used in the Eviction Prevention Act:
A. "authority" means the New Mexico mortgage finance authority;
B. "childhood trauma" means adverse childhood experiences that impede brain development, learning and appropriate socialization;
C. "eviction" means a notice initiated by an owner to regain possession of a dwelling unit and use of the premises under terms of the Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act;
D. "fiscal agent" means a public school, school district or regional education cooperative that partners with a homeless organization to participate in a grant;
E. "grant" means an eviction prevention grant issued by the authority;
F. "homeless" means that a school-age child lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence and includes a school-age child described as one:
(a) shares the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship or a similar reason;
(b) is living in a motel, hotel, trailer park or camping ground due to the lack of alternative accommodations;
(c) is living in an emergency or transitional shelter; or
(d) is abandoned in a hospital;
(2) who has a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings;
(3) who is living in a car, park, public space, abandoned building, substandard housing, bus or train station or similar setting; or
(4) whose parent is a migrant or seasonal worker and they qualify as homeless because they are living in circumstances similar to those described in Paragraphs (1) through (3) of this subsection;
G. "homeless organization" means a federally tax-exempt organization whose purpose is to address housing and homelessness;
H. "rent" means a payment in currency or in-kind under terms and conditions of a rental agreement for use of a dwelling unit or premises to be made to the owner by the resident, but does not include deposits;
I. "school-age child" means a child between the ages of four and eighteen who is enrolled in a public school in New Mexico; and
J. "student mobility" means a student's moving into and out of one or more schools during the school year for reasons other than grade promotion.
SECTION 3. [NEW MATERIAL] HARMFUL EFFECTS OF EVICTION AND HOMELESSNESS ON SCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN--EVICTION PREVENTION PROGRAM--NEW MEXICO MORTGAGE FINANCE AUTHORITY--APPLICATIONS--DATA COLLECTION AND REPORTS.--
A. The legislature recognizes the harmful effects of eviction and homelessness on school-age children, including interfering with school attendance and academic performance by contributing to:
(1) family stress, dysfunction and disintegration;
(2) childhood trauma; and
(3) high student mobility and absenteeism.
B. The "eviction prevention program" is created in the authority to provide rent assistance to families of school-age children who are at risk of homelessness. Families with school-age children who qualify for a public school's free or reduced-fee lunch program may be eligible for rent assistance through the eviction prevention program.
C. The authority shall:
(1) administer the eviction prevention program in partnership with public schools, school districts and regional education cooperatives;
(2) promulgate rules to carry out the provisions of the Eviction Prevention Act; and
(3) establish an application process whereby applicants may apply for grant funding of up to twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) to assist families with school-age children who are at risk of homelessness as a result of missing one or more rent payments due to unforeseen financial difficulties.
D. Applications shall:
(1) be submitted jointly by a public school, school district or regional education cooperative and one or more homeless organizations; and
(2) include public school or school district student mobility data and any available data about eviction rates in the public school's, school district's or regional education cooperative's communities.
E. The public school, school district or regional education cooperative shall serve as the fiscal agent for a grant award. The fiscal agent shall require its homeless organization partner to track and report to the fiscal agent and the authority how grant money is expended, the number of families of school-age children who received rent assistance, the reasons for providing rent assistance, the cost and length of time of that assistance and any other information the fiscal agent or authority requires. The fiscal agent shall collect data on school-age children whose families are receiving rent assistance pertaining to school absenteeism, student mobility, academic performance and any other data the fiscal agent or the authority consider necessary to determining the efficacy of the eviction prevention program.
F. The fiscal agent shall assign one or more persons to work directly with its homeless organization partner to approve and disburse rent assistance to owners to prevent the eviction of families with school-age children.
SECTION 4. APPROPRIATION.--Five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000) is appropriated from the general fund to the department of finance and administration for expenditure in fiscal year 2021 for the eviction prevention program in the New Mexico mortgage finance authority. Any unexpended or unencumbered balance remaining at the end of fiscal year 2021 shall revert to the general fund.
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