Federal protection on evictions ends in Omaha-metro

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 5:41 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - An estimated 11 million Americans are late on rent.

“To figure out where am I going to live in the next two months.”

For many, homelessness could be next. While some states passed extra protections against evictions, Nebraska did not.

“We are bracing for a tsunami of evictions,” said Scott Mertz, Housing Justice Project Director for Legal Aid of Nebraska.

He says in a typical year, 6,000 people a year or around 500 a month, are evicted in Douglas County.

“We have some concern that we will go back to the old normal or even exceeding it if the money doesn’t reach people in time,” said Mertz.

Millions of dollars remain in an account in the county, set aside to help renters and landlords through trying times of COVID. Limit evictions the thinking goes and perhaps, limit the spread of COVID.

A best-case scenario, experts believe, is that the tenant stays in their place and the landlords get what is owed.

“People could get their money today. So much is untouched and landlords can start the application process. It’s not wholly dependent on tenants getting the money,” said Mertz.

Legal Aid of Nebraska is bracing for the eviction numbers in Douglas County to go way up in two to three weeks. A group whose membership is full of landlords isn’t so sure.

John Chatelain with the Metro Omaha Property Owners Association says he doesn’t think the sky is falling when it comes to evictions with the moratorium ending. He says clearly there will be a day of reckoning now for some tenants.

But in his view, landlords want to work with tenants because as landlords, their bills are piling up too when it comes to the mortgage, insurance, and insurance on their buildings.

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