All Iowans — regardless of their circumstances or background — should have access to safe, stable housing and utility services throughout this ongoing public health crisis.
That's why, along with 22 other civil rights, domestic violence, and sexual assault survivor organizations, we’re urging Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Utilities Board to extend statewide moratoriums against evictions and utility shut-offs and to commit to preventing mass evictions after the moratorium ends.
Gov. Reynolds has proclaimed a moratorium on such evictions and shut-offs that is set to expire May 27, but we know this crisis is not going to be resolved by then.
About one-third of all Iowa households are rentals. But rent is now more difficult for many to pay as the state sees record increases in unemployment.
Black Iowans, notably Black women, are especially hard-hit. Between 2012 and 2016, Black renters in Iowa were on average 4.8 times more likely than white renters to have evictions filed against them. Additionally, Black women renters were 5.5 times more likely to have evictions filed against them than white renters.
Utility shut-offs also disproportionately hurt communities of color. A 2017 NAACP report found that nationally Black households experience utility disconnections at a higher rate than financially similar households.
Survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and gender-based violence are disproportionately affected too. That's because survivors who are in the process of rebuilding their lives don't have the financial resources to weather job loss and the economic challenges of the COVID-19 crisis.
To minimize the multi-faceted harms of the COVID-19 crisis, we’re calling for specific actions to prevent mass evictions in the midst of the pandemic, specifically:
- Extend the evictions moratorium beyond May 27, when it is currently set to expire
- Prohibit the collection of late fees and retaliation against tenants who assert their rights under the moratorium
- Extend the prohibition of utility shut-offs and require restoration of previously disconnected services
- Continue to prevent mass evictions during and after the pandemic
- Prevent "blacklisting" of tenants after the moratorium ends
The effort is part of a nationwide, concerted ACLU effort to reach out to government leaders to prevent mass evictions of people from their homes and utility shut-offs.
Read the full letter, asking for the specific actions, here.