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Iowa Eviction Moratorium ends sending 66 people to court

Iowa Legal Aid and the Quad City Open Network will be at the court help desk to provide legal and rental assistance.

People behind on their rent could face eviction in Iowa, Monday.

Iowa's eviction moratorium was lifted Sunday, August 1, 2021. The order was put in place September, 2020 to help those in financial crisis from COVID-19.

Tuesday, 66 people in Scott County will face eviction cases in court. The usual number of cases a day is 20.

"We're going to see a massive surge in evictions in the coming days, weeks and maybe months," said Ericka Peterson, Iowa Legal Aid Assistant Litigation Director.

Iowa Legal Aid and the Quad City Open Network will be at the court help desk to provide legal and rental assistance. 

“We have gotten some local funders to give us a pot of money, in which we can pay one month's prospective rent to a landlord in order to hold that eviction for 30 days," said Cecelia Bailey, Quad City Open Network Executive Director.

Bailey says funding is still available to help renters and landlords through Iowa Financial Authority. When the renters assistance program first launched a lot of people didn't apply. 

"The system was new. So trying to get people through the system and through the process was challenging. So you see a lot of backlog. It's my understanding the backlog has been cleared up in Scott County,” said Bailey.

If someone has received an eviction notice, Peterson says, "They should still hang tight. They may have legal rights, even if they can't pay rent, they might have legal rights. They may wish to speak to an attorney."

Landlords who want to evict a tenant must file through the court. 

 "A landlord may not just throw things out or change the locks. Turning off utilities is something that we see with some frequently. None of those things can happen, they're all illegal in Iowa," said Peterson.

Although health and human services prepared for this moment, they're afraid of the increase in homelessness numbers. 

"I think all service providers have been expecting that this would happen in some capacity. My understanding is that no, there's probably not enough shelter capacity for the potential influx at this time, said Peterson.

Both Peterson and Bailey say tenants facing eviction shouldn't loose hope. They should follow through with the courts and reach out for help with legal aid or rental assistance.

"I keep hope. As long as they meet the criteria, if we can get them where they need to go, we can connect them to Iowa legal aid. If we can connect them to a partner agency, then we can do our very best to keep them in their homes," said Bailey.

The Iowa Finance Authority offers assistance for renters and homeowners. Find more information here.