‘Keeping people stably housed is a human right’ - Johnson County Board of Supervisors allocates additional funding to Eviction Diversion Program

Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 6:06 PM CDT
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IOWA, Iowa (KCRG) - More than 100 people in Johnson County have avoided eviction - and the program keeping them in their homes is expanding.

Once the eviction moratorium ended during the pandemic, federal funding allowed certain courthouses to host attorneys who could intercept eviction proceedings along with Shelter House Case managers.

It’s part of the eviction diversion program to provide landlord and tenant mediation services, rent assistance and a staff help desk at the Johnson County Courthouse.

While the program runs on COVID related funding, the board of supervisors voted to allocate more than $300,000 to expand and help keep the program running over the next three years.

”It’s not the end of the road. There is still hope if they receive that eviction hearing schedule,” said Sara Barron, Johnson County Affordable Housing Coalition Executive Director.

While the eviction moratorium kept people from getting evicted during the pandemic, after it ended many were still at risk of homelessness.

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors recently voted to allocate money to the Eviction Diversion Program that helps to keep people in their homes.

The program is a collaboration between multiple Johnson County organizations and the courts to help those who have had a Forcible Entry and Detainer or FEDs, the legal proceeding a landlord uses to evict a tenant, filed against them.

”The number one piece of advice I can provide to anyone who has received notice of an eviction hearing is to show up for that scheduled court date. That is going to be the best way for them to access those resources,” said Barron.

The program intervenes at the point of eviction before it takes place, after the FED has been filed, seeing if they can work something out between the landlord and tenant to both get the back rent paid and keep the tenant stably in their homes during court.

”Ultimately, it’s easier to keep someone in their home than it is for them to experience homelessness and then re enter housing. And it’s an awful lot less traumatic as well. It’s better for everyone involved to help come to an agreement that will keep the renters in their homes,” said Christine Ralston, Shelter House Development Director.

From October 2021 to February of 2022 the program has obtained 107 dismals of FEDs for tenants both through financial assistance and landlord negotiation.

”Keeping people stably housed is a human right. It’s a public health intervention. It’s really foundational to everything we want to do to be a strong community. When Johnson County makes a commitment to fund those services we are investing as a community in those ideals,” said Barron.

Now this program is only for those who have had those FEDs filed against them, those who have to go to court because of it.

Johnson county does have an eviction prevention program that helps people before their situation ends up in court. That program offers help to pay rent and utility bills.

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