Evictions loom as end of the month nears

Posted at 6:50 PM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 19:50:25-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — An executive order from Governor Pete Ricketts halting evictions is set to expire at the end of the month. This comes as lots of people across the state are still filing for unemployment. So some renters are concerned as the end of the month draws closer.

"My landlord personally has been really hard on us and has been nagging us constantly and sort of bombarding us with calls that you got to pay rent," said Mark Vondrasek, a tenant in Omaha.

Like many others, Vondrasek's household is impacted by the pandemic. His hours at his job were cut, and his two roommates are on unemployment. But he says that hasn't stopped his landlord from asking about rent.

"They've been extremely invasive, asking us to send proof of that we've received unemployment like a dollar amount, like exactly how much money they've been sent," said Vondrasek.

Situations like this have added to the cancel rent movement, where tenants across the nation ask landlords to forgive that money during these times.

Nebraska Senator Megan Hunt says many people are getting their unemployment. They're using it to catch up on bills and for food.

"With so much unknown about this virus and so many people still experiencing financial hardship, this just isn't the time to evicting people," said Hunt.

Governor Ricketts's executive order to halt evictions ends on June 1st. Since unemployment claims are being processed faster, and people are getting money from the CARES Act, he won't be extending that order.

"Our concern is that we don't want people to fall too far behind on rent and not be able to catch up," said Ricketts.

Senator Hunt disagrees and thinks that the order should have been extended.

"The majority of the people in the legislature plus the governor, there just isn't a lot of will to do something to help tenants.”

She says tenants shouldn't count on anymore help from lawmakers, and therefore calls on people to work together.

"I really beg Nebraskans to continue to look out for each other and try and make the best decisions for their neighbors," said Hunt.

Still, Vondrasek hopes for more help and change.

"I just think that housing is a human right, and I hope that our politicians do something about that," said Vondrasek.

In a statement regarding evictions concerns, Congressman Don Bacon sent us a statement that says:

"I empathize with everyone struggling during this unprecedented time and have already worked with members across the aisle to get resources to our community to cover expenses related to the pandemic. The past four legislative bills have included assistance to cover expenses, including rent through a federal stimulus payment, unemployment assistance, and forgivable loans for businesses to pay their employees. The speaker has not brought up the rent and mortgage cancellation act for consideration."