Coronavirus in Iowa: How a county program saves renters from eviction

Evictions have spiked in Iowa’s most populous county over the past several weeks as coronavirus-related eviction bans expired. But housing advocates have helped dozens of tenants like Green through the new program. Funded by $800,000 from Polk County's share of federal CARES Act funding, the emergency program provides low-barrier funding that can cover rent through the end of September and as far back as March 15. 

The goal, advocates say, is to provide one more piece in the safety net to help Polk County residents avoid homelessness during the pandemic. Since the program began Sept. 1, Iowa Legal Aid executive director Nick Smithberg said the program has helped prevent 61 evictions affecting 149 residents — 77 of them children. 

No one who showed up for a hearing and met with staff was evicted, he said.

“We’re preventing dozens of evictions per week,” he said. “The alternative, as you might imagine, is really tragic consequences.” 

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