Millions in rental assistance to be doled out as eviction cases rise in Douglas County

Eviction cases across Douglas County are climbing to near-pandemic levels
Published: Mar. 7, 2021 at 9:10 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Eviction cases across Douglas County are climbing to near-pandemic levels, and those on the ground want renters to know there are options out there for those still struggling to make ends meet.

“I’m four months behind in rent now, so I’m trying to catch up, but I’m still behind so it’s difficult,” said Yolanda, who’s back to work, but still having a tough time making up for wages lost earlier on in the pandemic. Her brother’s also having difficulties. “He’s just now finding a part-time job, but that’s not going to help him catch up in rent. He was evicted and now he has to find somewhere else to go,” she said.

This week, in Douglas County, the courts are set to hear nearly 70 eviction cases, nearing pre-pandemic numbers. Scott Mertz, of Legal Aid Nebraska, told 6 News, one of the major reasons for the rise is renters don’t know about the CDC’s moratorium on evictions.

“You do have to take affirmative steps in order to get the protection of the CDC moratorium and just too many people don’t know about that and thus how to do that,” said Mertz.

The halt on evictions is set to run out at the end of the month, meaning rental assistance needs to move quickly. “If it is lifted and it’s lifted before they get access to rental assistance that’s a major concern because we will see those numbers go up,” said Mertz.

Douglas County has made $2 million in leftover CARES Act dollars available for rent assistance, and the City of Omaha will soon start doling out millions more in new federal help.

“People should still reach out now,” said Randy McCoy, Executive Director, MAACH. “The city funds may not be online for another two or three weeks as we’re getting everything put together and spun out, but there is assistance available right now.”

And the assistance can help out even those who are back to work, as long as there’s proof the pandemic -- somehow -- hurt income.

“That could be a business shutdown or loss of hours, or it could also be illness by the individual or family, something like that, to show that there was even three or four months ago -- or even two months ago -- a loss of income,” said McCoy. “Even if you’re back to work now please still apply -- as long as we can link it back we can offer some assistance.”

Landlords can also apply for this latest round of rental assistance. It does require the tenant’s cooperation but is another option for those landlords also struggling.

If you’re interested in applying for rental assistance you can fill out an application online or call MAACH: 402-957-1747. The form for the CDC’s eviction moratorium can be found here. Renters must fill it out and hand it over to their landlord.

Legal Aid of Nebraska also recommends showing up for your eviction case in court with the form in hand; to reach out to them with any questions, or concerns about potential eviction.

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