AP EXPLAINER: More evictions expected in Iowa after ban ends

Evictions are expected to increase in Iowa after the federal moratorium on them ends Saturday.

Posted: Jul 30, 2021 10:26 AM

A federal freeze on most evictions that was enacted last year is scheduled to expire Saturday, after the Biden administration extended the original date by a month. The moratorium put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in September has been the only tool keeping millions of tenants in their homes. Many of them lost jobs during the coronavirus pandemic and have fallen months behind on their rent.

Landlords successfully challenged the order in court, arguing that they also had bills to pay. They pointed out that tenants could access nearly $47 billion in federal money set aside to help pay rents and related expenses.

Advocates for tenants said the distribution of the money had been slow and that more time was needed to distribute it and repay landlords. Without an extension, they feared a spike in evictions and lawsuits seeking to oust tenants who were behind on their rents.

Even with the delay, roughly 3.6 million people in the U.S. as of July 5 said they would face eviction within the next two months, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. The survey measures the social and economic effects of the pandemic every two weeks through online responses from a representative sample of U.S. households.

Here’s the situation in Iowa:

WHAT’S THE STATUS OF EVICTION MORATORIUMS IN THE STATE?

Iowa's ban on evictions expired in May 2020 as Gov. Kim Reynolds moved aggressively to lift coronavirus restrictions. That left the federal moratorium on evictions as the only protection for renters.

WHAT’S BEING DONE TO HELP PEOPLE FACING EVICTION?

Iowa set up a rent and utility assistance program with $195 million in federal money. The aid covers up to 12 months of late rent and utility bills for renters who make up to 80% of their area's median income. Iowans also have to show that they either lost their job or experienced another significant financial blow caused by the pandemic. Iowa Finance Authority spokeswoman Ashley Jared said the state hasn't decided yet whether to apply for a second round of federal rental assistance money that is available.

So far, the state estimates that $7.6 million in rent and utility assistance has been distributed to 2,753 families statewide, but that doesn't include a separate aid program for the Des Moines area that has distributed more than $15.2 million to roughly 3,400 households.

Last year, Iowa distributed $31.3 million to roughly 14,000 renters through a different rental assistance program.

Despite the aid programs, evictions are expected to jump in the state after the moratorium ends.

“We would expect to see a fairly significant increase in the next couple weeks,” said Anne Bacon, of the IMPACT Community Action Partnership group, which is overseeing the Des Moines area programs. “Right now we are just trying to keep people from becoming homeless.”

HOW ARE THE COURTS HANDLING EVICTION HEARINGS?

The CDC moratorium prevented many but not all evictions in Iowa. Alex Kornya, general counsel at Iowa Legal Aid, said some landlords have been able to evict people whose leases had expired by arguing that they were being evicted because of the expired lease, not because of late payments. Still, the number of eviction lawsuits statewide fell from roughly 18,000 in 2019 to 12,364 last year because of the moratoriums, Kornya said. So far in 2021, 7,318 eviction cases have been filed in Iowa courts.

WHAT IS THE AFFORDABILITY IN THE STATE’S MAJOR RENTAL MARKETS?

Iowa has a tight rental market and a shortage of affordable housing. The state reported a 4.9% vacancy rate last year, which was below the national average of 7%. Statewide, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment last year was $774.70, which was 5% higher than in 2017, when the average rent was $738.70. Data on rental housing during the pandemic is not yet available.

ARE EVICTIONS EXPECTED TO CREATE A SURGE IN HOMELESSNESS?

It's hard to say how much homelessness might increase in Iowa, but evictions are expected to increase once the moratorium ends.

“We hope it’s not as bad as we think it might be,” Kornya said. “But right now, there are a lot of extremely concerning signs.”

Recent census data showed that there were 30,115 adults in the state who feared they could be evicted within two months.

In addition to the moratorium ending, a change in unemployment benefits in the state last month could contribute to more evictions. Iowa quit participating in enhanced unemployment benefits last month, so people receiving unemployment checks are no longer receiving an extra $300 a week in federal aid.

The number of inquiries that Iowa Legal Aid received about evictions nearly doubled last year after the expiration of an initial federal $600 per week boost to unemployment benefits.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 690391

Reported Deaths: 8104
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1417751856
Ramsey59044950
Dakota52670498
Anoka48579482
Washington30969309
Stearns25163241
St. Louis20636336
Scott19872145
Wright18754163
Olmsted16057111
Sherburne13701104
Carver1224752
Clay926795
Rice9192121
Blue Earth881947
Crow Wing7905102
Kandiyohi749389
Chisago722958
Otter Tail678794
Benton6567101
Mower569138
Winona561352
Goodhue556680
Douglas541684
Itasca526471
Beltrami516972
McLeod512064
Steele510721
Isanti495670
Morrison472463
Nobles452950
Becker443759
Polk438675
Freeborn433838
Lyon398754
Carlton394459
Nicollet384047
Pine378426
Mille Lacs359360
Brown353044
Cass350635
Le Sueur344729
Todd327334
Meeker310249
Waseca294525
Martin267933
Wabasha24654
Dodge24575
Hubbard236141
Roseau234824
Houston206816
Redwood203542
Renville202448
Fillmore200210
Pennington193022
Wadena188926
Faribault182225
Sibley178410
Cottonwood178324
Chippewa172639
Kanabec166729
Aitkin156838
Watonwan156511
Rock140719
Jackson135112
Pope13468
Yellow Medicine126620
Pipestone125326
Koochiching121919
Stevens121511
Swift118819
Murray116010
Marshall105318
Clearwater104818
Lake92821
Wilkin90214
Lac qui Parle86824
Mahnomen7059
Big Stone6964
Grant6958
Norman6699
Lincoln6554
Kittson53522
Unassigned51793
Red Lake4927
Traverse4315
Lake of the Woods4114
Cook2150

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 435755

Reported Deaths: 6339
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk67341672
Linn25698353
Scott22828261
Black Hawk19121334
Woodbury16940233
Johnson1659690
Dubuque14547218
Pottawattamie13058183
Dallas12746102
Story1187148
Unassigned93740
Warren685993
Webster6304102
Cerro Gordo6212102
Clinton620097
Des Moines594482
Muscatine5781108
Marshall564280
Sioux542775
Jasper516575
Lee511078
Wapello4993128
Buena Vista472942
Marion449083
Plymouth434083
Henry339940
Jones331158
Bremer325365
Crawford321644
Carroll317053
Washington315754
Benton312656
Boone308736
Mahaska275453
Dickinson270846
Kossuth251471
Jackson246044
Clay245729
Tama238273
Delaware234643
Buchanan233938
Hardin230847
Page221624
Cedar220525
Fayette220345
Wright217641
Winneshiek215937
Hamilton211752
Harrison198875
Clayton194458
Madison193820
Butler188836
Floyd187742
Mills185224
Poweshiek181036
Cherokee179440
Iowa176425
Allamakee176252
Lyon174441
Jefferson169138
Calhoun168313
Hancock167335
Winnebago164231
Grundy158835
Cass155556
Louisa154949
Shelby151739
Appanoose151249
Emmet149541
Franklin148524
Humboldt147226
Sac144722
Union144237
Mitchell141643
Guthrie138132
Chickasaw137518
Palo Alto131124
Clarke125024
Montgomery122239
Keokuk116232
Howard115622
Monroe114033
Ida107538
Davis103125
Pocahontas99023
Greene98012
Adair95334
Monona94733
Lucas94523
Worth9268
Osceola83717
Decatur74510
Fremont74111
Taylor72412
Van Buren70919
Wayne65123
Ringgold62226
Audubon58414
Adams3914
Rochester
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 48°
Mason City
Clear
40° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 40°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 41°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 43°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 41°
More sunshine today before clouds and a few showers arrive Friday
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events