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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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NE bill would reduce eviction impact, increase gender, racial equity

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Tuesday, March 5, 2024   

Evictions are on the rise in Nebraska and in many places around the country. Nearly 2,500 more eviction proceedings were initiated in Nebraska courts last year than in 2022. Evictions can have long-range implications for housing, employment and health. Women face eviction filings and judgments disproportionately often, women of color most of all. A bill scheduled for its first round of debate today, the "Tenant Clean Slate Act," LB-175, would reduce the impact of evictions by differentiating between an eviction filing and an eviction judgment.

Erin Feichtinger, Ph.D, policy director of the Women's Fund of Omaha, says under current Nebraska law, an eviction "filing" can cause as much harm as an eviction judgment.

"When a landlord goes and checks your background, they are checking for eviction records, but an eviction filing -- which is just receiving that eviction notice -- is being treated the same on a background check as an eviction judgment -- actually being evicted," Feichtinger said.

Feichtinger added female heads of households make up about 60% of the people in Omaha eviction courts. She says finding suitable housing with the current high cost of rent and lack of affordable housing is already a challenge, especially for women with children, and said LB-175 would eliminate one potential barrier. Opponents argue that it would keep landlords from obtaining important information about prospective tenants.

Feichtinger said the circumstances leading to eviction can be complex.

"You have a car repair and you can't drive your car to work, a health emergency that sets you back, a child's health emergency -- common situations, but not manageable for those who are already struggling with housing costs, with making ends meet," she added.

LB-175 would also allow a person to petition the court to have a past eviction filing sealed.

She stresses that the same gender equity issues that make women more susceptible to eviction can cause an eviction to have a greater impact on them.

"Because of that gender wage gap, of the primary caregiving responsibilities with the lack of accessible affordable child care. All of those things set women behind, not only leading into eviction court but after an eviction, " she said.

Feichtinger called housing justice "foundational" to achieving gender and racial equity. LB-175 was introduced by state Sen. George Dungan, D-Lincoln last session. State Sen. Wendy DeBoer, D-Omaha, chose it as her priority bill this session.

Disclosure: Women's Fund of Omaha contributes to our fund for reporting on Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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