Stress levels high for tenants and landlords as eviction moratorium expires

With the federal moratorium set to expire on Saturday, millions of Americans may find themselves without a home, and are trying to plan their next steps

Posted: Jul 31, 2021 1:20 AM

MASON CITY, Iowa - Lemi-Ola Aregbesola has been through the wringer over the last 18 months.

When the pandemic ramped up, she had to quit her job due to concerns with contracting COVID-19, combined with her issues with Crohn's disease and sickle cell anemia have. Through most of the last year, she stayed in her bedroom, limited her trips outside, restricted guests coming over, and stayed somewhat distant from her family.

"My children aren't small. They're teenagers, but they still cling. They still need a hug every day, they need a kiss every morning, a kiss goodnight, peek in to see what you're doing, sit in on the side of you. It was hard for my girls not to be able to do that often."

Now back to work for the past near two months, she still limits her trips outside of home and work, and has been working on catching up with rent, contributing whenever she can. She also applied for Iowa's rental and utility assistance program back in April, but the money has yet to arrive.

"That's a lot of months where rent didn't get paid, but you still had to pay other bills. You might have wanted to pay your rent, and you didn't have it, that was even worse. To know that your lights are going to be cut off, or your water is going to be cut off, you have to make tough decisions."

While she has been fortunate that her family has not faced eviction, the same can't be said for many others.

"Every time you go to sleep at night, you think about when you wake up in the morning, are you going to have that eviction notice on your door? Are you going to get a phone call that says we mailed you something in the mail and you should get it in a couple of days that tells you have 72 hours to vacate your place. They don't have a place to go. There's a lot of people out here that it happened to, and they lost everything."

By the end of the weekend, an estimated 3.6 million people may be without a home after the federal eviction moratorium expires, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey that was released earlier this month. Despite President Biden urging Congress to extend the date, the moratorium will be allowed to expire on Saturday.

For property manager Russ Hardy, he understands his tenants' plight, and has been working with tenants like Lemi-Ola to keep a roof over their heads, including directing them to available assistance. But he says the moratorium has to end.

"We have to pay utilities on the ones that people are living in that aren't paying rent. We still have our insurance to pay on our properties every month, and we have real estate taxes that are due twice a year, and mortgage payments we continue to make."

While he's been fortunate to not have serious financial troubles, having sold two houses to cover expenses, he says not everyone has that luxury.

He notes of some tenants' desire to not work and pay rent, which causes a strain.

"People that want to work...there are job opportunities out there for them. With a job, most people are able to pay their bills. Starting wages around here have increased. There's no reason that somebody that can work shouldn't be able to find a job."

Lemi-Ola urges those that know they can work but choose not to to find a job.

"Today's the day, you've got to get up. There are a lot of jobs out here that are hiring. Get up and apply. You can make some money. Some money is better than no money."

With the delay in assistance, she's also pleading with landlords to be patient.

"It's been stressful on both ends, but don't give up. Just bear with us a little while longer."

To date, only $7.6 million out of the allotted $195 million in federal rent assistance has been distributed. In the Des Moines area, a program specific to that area has distributed more than $15.2 million to nearly 3,400 households.

A spokesperson with the Iowa Finance Authority says the state has not decided whether to apply for a second round of federal rental assistance money that is available.

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
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Pennington193022
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Faribault182225
Sibley178410
Cottonwood178324
Chippewa172639
Kanabec166729
Aitkin156838
Watonwan156511
Rock140719
Jackson135112
Pope13468
Yellow Medicine126620
Pipestone125326
Koochiching121919
Stevens121511
Swift118819
Murray116010
Marshall105318
Clearwater104818
Lake92821
Wilkin90214
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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
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Greene98012
Adair95334
Monona94733
Lucas94523
Worth9268
Osceola83717
Decatur74510
Fremont74111
Taylor72412
Van Buren70919
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