116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Tens of thousands of Iowa are facing anxiety and uncertainty as the end of a federal moratorium on evictions approaches at the end of this month. According to a census survey, 84,000 Iowans are not current on rent or mortgage payments and nearly 41,000 say they are somewhat or very likely to face eviction in the next two months.
According to a report by Lee Des Moines Bureau reporter Erin Murphy, that’s the sixth-highest rate in the nation.
In Linn County, a shortage of affordable housing was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Then came August’s derecho, which damaged or destroyed thousands of housing units. Some are still undergoing or are in need of repairs.
Ideally, the moratorium would be extended. But federal eviction protection was aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus. Now that vaccines are widely available, the moratorium is ending. A state moratorium was lifted more than a year ago.
Fortunately, local organizations and governments are stepping up to help.
As Murphy reported, a help desk for landlords and tenants set up by Iowa Legal Aid at the Johnson County Courthouse will start offering assistance on July 12.
In Linn County, an Iowa Legal Aid help desk is already open at the Linn County Courthouse to assist tenants coming in for eviction hearings.
Also in Linn County, Waypoint is the entry point for a range of rent and utility assistance. Rent and utility providers report the scope of need to Waypoint and staff at the agency work with various assistance providers in the community to distribute help. Waypoint has created a joint application for multiple assistance programs and sends staff to the courthouse to provide help to applicants.
“The Linn County Courthouse can only do so many evictions per day so that also will help stifle the flow a little bit,” Ashely Balius, Linn County community outreach and assistance director, told Murphy.
“However, that doesn’t change the fact that right now, we’re looking at August. It is going to be a difficult month. I think there will be a lot of people in and out of units so we are trying to set things up so we don’t see a substantial increase in our homeless population,” she said.
The availability of assistance makes it critical for those given eviction notices to attend hearings and go through the process with hopes of avoiding eviction.
Unlike a pandemic or a derecho, we know the eviction crisis is coming. Community efforts to mitigate the damage are arriving just in time. They deserve our support.
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