EXPLANATOR: Evictions in South Dakota may increase despite aid

EXPLANATOR: Evictions in South Dakota may increase despite aid

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 South Dakota:

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

South Dakota did not enact its own moratorium on evictions, so when the CDC’s expires, thousands of renters will lose their protection. WHAT’S BEING DONE TO HELP PEOPLE FACING EVICTION?

South Dakota has received $360 million in federal funds to help tenants with outstanding rent, utility payments and other expenses. The money can go toward 15 months of rent and other expenses, including internet access. Renters who pay 30% of their income toward rent and earn 80% or less of their area’s median income qualify. So far, only a small fraction of the funds have been sent to renters. The South Dakota Housing Development Authority, which oversees the money, estimates that it has distributed about $12 million to 1,903 tenants. “There’s a large population that isn’t aware this assistance exists,” said Brent Thompson, the executive director of East River Legal Services, a legal clinic that aids renters facing evictions and that is one of several local groups working with the Housing Development Authority to make renters facing eviction aware of the assistance.

HOW ARE THE COURTS HANDLING EVICTION ACTIONS? During the moratorium, courts had halted many eviction actions or landlords have decided not to file them. But Thompson said that is changing. The East River Legal Services clinic has seen a 50% increase in people facing evictions since May. The clinic is now handling at least one case a day, Thompson said, adding he feared the situation will only worsen.

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