The following is a joint statement from Mark Stringer, ACLU of Iowa Executive Director and Laurie Schipper, Executive Director for the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV).
"We would like to thank Gov. Reynolds for authorizing additional allocation of federal CARES Act funds to support Iowa renters and homeowners at risk of eviction or foreclosure because of COVID-19-related loss of income, as announced late yesterday.
This additional money to Iowa’s eviction prevention fund is crucial. About one-third of all Iowa households are rentals, and pre-COVID, 28 percent of Iowa renter households were extremely low-income. Rent is now more difficult for many to pay as the state sees record increases in unemployment.
This additional money will also reduce instability in housing, which hurts both individuals and Iowa's overall economy.
However, there is more federal money that Gov. Reynolds should allocate to this important safety net to keep people in their homes. Another $82 million of CARES program money still hasn’t been spent but must be spent by states before a fast-approaching Dec. 30 deadline.
The state has set a deadline of December 4 for Iowans to apply for these funds. We encourage Gov. Reynolds to continue to show her concern for Iowans who have had financial setbacks because of COVID-19 and are in danger of losing their place to live by doing the following:
- Reserve additional CARES dollars for eviction protection so that the fund isn't again in danger of running out.
- Develop a state response to continue to assist Iowans after December 2020, since the economic impact of COVID-19 will be felt by Iowans for months to come.
It's important to note that Iowa's most vulnerable communities are disproportionately hurt by COVID-19. Black Iowans, notably Black women, are especially hard-hit when it comes to loss of housing. 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, and disproportionately likely to have those evictions dismissed, showing the evictions were not well-founded.
Communities of color, including many immigrant and low-income families who cannot access public benefits, also continue to be disproportionately harmed.
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."
Earlier this month, 54 Iowa organizations urged Gov. Reynolds to allocate additional funding to prevent evictions. You can find that letter here.