SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – The chance of being evicted from home is a big worry for many Americans now that the CDC’s eviction moratorium has ended. And for people experiencing financial hardship during the pandemic who qualified for moratorium and now have back rent to pay, they could be immediately evicted.
Brent Thompson, executive director for East River Legal Services, says 1 in 5 Americans are facing worries of not being able to pay next month’s rent.
“It already makes it much more challenging to find a home when you have an eviction on your record. You know, it’s unfortunate especially with a lot of these people because of the pandemic, it’s through no fault of their own,” Thompson said. “You know, they simply lost their job, got behind on a payment, and then just began that downward cycle of debt that so many Americans deal with.”
In South Dakota, he says 18.8% of the population has that worry of eviction on their mind.
“Our office has seen our housing cases increase by 50 percent from May through July so, you know, that’s a pretty significant increase,” Thompson said. “Unfortunately, when they reach our office, it’s already reached that point where it’s most likely a legal matter.”
Thompson says before the situation reaches a lawyer’s office, tenants should try to get assistance through the state of South Dakota.
“Of the 2020 funding through the Corona relief fund, we still have 2 million available in that funding source,” Lorraine Polak, Executive Director of South Dakota Housing Development Authority said. “Then under the American Rescue plan and also the Consolidated Appropriations Act, South Dakota received a minimum allocation. So we actually received 200 million under the Emergency Rental Assistance One and then another 152 million under Emergency Rental Assistance Two. So all that funding is available for rental households.”
To qualify for Emergency Rental Assistance One, Polak says you must be able to identify that you fell behind on rent directly because of COVID-19.
“So as a household, they do have to indicate that they either lost employment, had medical expenses due to COVID, or had increased household expenses due to COVID,” Polak said. “Which could be increased bills for utilities or household items such as food because kids were home and were not able to attend school.”
However, Polak says that to qualify for Emergency Rental Assistance Two, you have to identify a financial impact that doesn’t have to be related to COVID-19. All funding looks at events that have happened since March 1st of 2020.