116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
A recent New York Times article, estimated 14.5 percent of Linn County households are behind on their rent. That is approximately 13,177 households and on average, those households owe $2,914 in back rent.
Even before the pandemic created additional housing instability, Linn County and Cedar Rapids residents already faced high rates of eviction. According to Eviction Lab data, which contains data up until 2016, more than four households in Linn County received an eviction notice each day and more than two households were formally evicted. Within Cedar Rapids, the rate of eviction is as high as 3.33 percent, which ranks Cedar Rapids at 89th in the country and has been labeled a “top evicting area.”
This is a national issue — especially after the pandemic left many with lost employment or unstable income. Many residents have not been able to make up for what has been lost and are still struggling. And in Linn County, nearly every resident was negatively impacted in some way by the August 2020 derecho, as power was lost for days or even weeks, causing most to lose food in addition to many other losses.
Rent and utility assistance providers have met regularly to discuss the high level of need and rapidly changing environment with the ultimate goal of streamlining services, ensuring residents can access resources and making the best use of available funds. Since June 2020, this group has grown to include: Linn County, the City of Cedar Rapids, Waypoint Services, Willis Dady, HACAP, United Way, Helping Hands, the Salvation Army, Metro Catholic Outreach, Family Promise, Marion Cares, Catholic Charities, and Iowa Legal Aid. Any Linn County resident with any housing need related to the derecho, homelessness or a need for financial assistance should contact Waypoint at (319) 366-7999 or by email at email@example.com.
Due to this highly effective collaboration, Linn County has taken the following actions to meet needs:
- General Assistance enacted temporary policy changes for FY20 that increased the amount we could pay to meet a household need, such as getting residents caught up on back rent knowing stable income was coming or by ensuring utility service was not interrupted.
- Applied for and received $5.3 million dollars in Federal Emergency Rent (and utility) Assistance in May 2021. This program can pay for up to 18 months of rent and utilities including up to three months of prospective rent. The Linn County program will work with community partners to get this program up and running as quickly and efficiently as possible. Plans are underway to begin accepting applications on Aug. 16.
Linn County is working within the collaborative to enact a “stop gap” program that will provide up to two months of full rent payments to any tenant or landlord that can reach an agreement to stop the eviction. To access this assistance, residents must go to the Linn County Courthouse and be present for their eviction hearing.Linn County, Cedar Rapids will continue to adapt and modify services to meet the needs of Linn County residents.
Ashley Balius is community outreach and assistance director for Linn County.