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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

Iowa Legal Aid seeing uptick in calls as federal eviction protections set to run out

"It's sort of hard to fathom how challenging it is to fear you won't have a place to live," said Ericka Petersen with Iowa Legal Aid.

DES MOINES, Iowa — 11,000 eviction cases have been filed in Iowa since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and Iowa Legal Aid has seen a 140% increase in calls on the topic compared to the last six years.

"Everything starts at home, right?" said Ericka Petersen with Iowa Legal Aid.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently offers federal eviction protection through the end of March.

After that, it's up to Congress to pass additional funding.

"It's sort of hard to fathom how challenging it is to fear you that you're no longer going to have a safe place to live," Petersen said. "And then add on top of that, many of these most vulnerable people for evictions also are vulnerable to COVID-19 for lots of various reasons."

If the program runs out of money, Petersen says it could have a huge impact on Iowans on the brink.

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"We have seen a huge uptick in calls for help about evictions and that huge uptick doesn't seem to be entirely reflected in the filings statewide," she said. "And our thinking is that it's because the moratorium is working and it is helping keep some people housed."

Iowa Legal Aid's internal data shows around 44% of people being evicted in Polk County are individuals of color. While the eviction moratorium could not be extended as part of President Biden's COVID relief plan, it did include money for eviction relief.

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