Rent concerns remain as possible evictions loom due to pandemic

Posted at 11:07 PM, May 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 11:20:13-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — An executive order from Governor Pete Ricketts regarding evictions is set to expire at the end of May.

This comes as thousands of people across the state are still filing for unemployment. So some renters are concerned for the future, while others are pushing for change to the entire system.

“My hours at work have been reduced my two roommates are on unemployment,” said Mark Vondrasek, a tenant in Omaha.

His household has been hit hard by the current pandemic. He says his landlord knows about their financial struggles but that hasn’t stopped questions about rent.

“They have been nagging us constantly and sort of bombarding us with calls about how you got to pay rent? You got to do it this way, there’s no exceptions,” said Vondrasek.

Back in March, Governor Ricketts issued an executive order to postpone evictions until the end of May, for those who’s job’s were impacted by the coronavirus. But with time ticking down, Vondrasek is concerned not only about evictions but how that could spread COVID-19.

“Being evicted puts you in contact with other people you have to move you have to go and look at other apartments and that spreads the disease faster,” said Vondrasek.

This comes as people across the nation are asking that landlords cancel rent and to not threaten evictions during this pandemic, including, in Omaha.

“A complete cancelation of rent, ensure that no back rent is owed when all this is over a halt to evictions completely for any reason,” said Simon Hinton of Omaha Tenants United.

That group is fighting for those changes, but Hinton says he’s still seen some landlords threatening evictions before the end of May and is confused by that process.

“I don’t know how landlords expect to refill those apartments during this time of crisis, who else is going to come and pay for those?,” said Hinton.

“They’re asking for something for free nothing is free, everything comes at a cost,” said Arnold Epstein, a property owner.

Epstein is pushing back at the ideas because he is in need of the money he makes from rent.

“I don’t have a pension, I need the rent. I have a disabled adult son, I have to pay his housing his medical issues I need money to support him,” said Epstein.

Vondrasek says his household paid half their rent for March and April, and the other half’s will be paid down the road, something which he’s not looking forward to.

“We’re going to have to work you know 110, 120 150% harder to pay back that rent at our jobs in the near future,” said Vondrasek.