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Nevada Evictions Paused as Health Crisis Continues

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Nevada will use $10 million in federal pandemic funds for short-term rental assistance to stall evictions. (publicdomainpictures/Pixabay)
Nevada will use $10 million in federal pandemic funds for short-term rental assistance to stall evictions. (publicdomainpictures/Pixabay)
September 2, 2020

LAS VEGAS -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday it would temporarily halt evictions for some Americans struggling to pay their rent due to the pandemic. The order will apply to Americans who qualified under the CARES Act, which covered individuals who earn less than $99,000 a year. The move came one day after Nevada extended by 45-days its own moratorium on evictions.

Nicholas Barr, an assistant professor of social work at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said the city has been one of the hardest hit by unemployment due to COVID-19, and another crisis needs to be avoided.

"We need more emergency housing funds," he said. "It's good if we can stop this from happening for a month, but we really need a long-term solution to keep people in housing."

Experts have warned that, without the extension, the state court system would be overwhelmed with disputes between landlords and renters. Barr said Las Vegas has only 14 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 households of "extremely low income."

Gov. Steve Sisolak has said the extension will allow counties to provide short-term rental assistance to landlords and give courts time to implement a residential eviction mediation program. Barr said a missed rental payment can easily upend people's lives.

"We know from decades of research that when people enter into the homeless sort of system, it's much harder to get them housed again," he said. "Much, much better -- as in all things -- to focus on prevention."

Health experts worry that evictions could accelerate coronavirus infection rates, and Barr added that many people who are unemployed and looking for work already are in survival mode.

"That's all really hard to do in the best circumstances," he said. "Imagine now not having a good night's sleep, being chronically stressed, being worried about your safety. Imagine trying to corral and raise your kids, while also dealing with all those needs, when you're not housed."

Eviction moratoriums already have expired in many states, putting millions of Americans at risk of homelessness by year's end. Even before the pandemic, 800,000 people across the country were threatened with eviction each month.

The report is online at reports.nlihc.org.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NV