The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Thursday to throw out a federal eviction moratorium “will have a devastating impact on thousands of Nebraskans struggling to pay rent and at risk of eviction,” Legal Aid of Nebraska said Friday.
But legal and financial help for Nebraskans facing eviction is still available.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had reimposed the moratorium on Aug. 3. It was issued to temporarily halt evictions in counties with “substantial and high levels” of COVID-19 transmissions and was to last until Oct. 3.
But the high court said the agency lacked the authority to do so under federal law without explicit congressional authorization. The court’s action ended protections for roughly 3.5 million people in the country who said they faced eviction in the next two months, according to Census Bureau data from early August.
In Nebraska, legal and financial help for those facing eviction is still available.
One avenue for help is the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which provides money to eligible renters and landlords to cover back rent, future rent and bills for utilities, internet and cellphones.
Eligible households include those that earn 80% of the local median income or have faced unemployment because of COVID-19.
In Omaha, the emergency rental help is being managed by the Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless. People can call 211 or visit macchconnect.org to find out if they are eligible.
Those who live in Douglas County, outside the Omaha city limits, can visit copeinfo.org or call 402-616-2330 for more information.
Lincoln and Lancaster County residents can visit lincoln.ne.gov/City/Mayor/Housing-Utility-Assistance or call 402-413-2085.
Nebraska residents who live outside Douglas or Lancaster Counties can visit the state’s website at coronavirus.nebraska.gov or call 833-500-8810.
Another option for help is Legal Aid’s Housing Justice Project. Its attorneys can provide a range of legal services related to housing.
Scott Mertz, managing attorney of Legal Aid’s housing project, said it’s critical to act as soon as a problem with rent or a landlord comes up.
“It is always best if a tenant reaches out to Legal Aid as soon as they realize that, due to being behind in rent, eviction is possible,” Mertz said. “We are here to help, and there are many ways tenants can work with landlords and the courts.”