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Central Iowa Homeless Shelter Prepares for Influx as End of Eviction Moratorium Looms

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DES MOINES, Iowa — The state’s moratorium on evictions ends next week, and Central Iowa Shelter and Services says it is already seeing an increase in people who no longer have a place to live.

“Today my team just told me we had nine new people check into the building all due to either being threatened by landlords or the evictions coming up on May 27,” said Melissa O’Neil, CEO for CISS.

O’Neil says the CARES Act provides funding for rent assistance, but it hasn’t been released yet because the state and the Department of Housing and Urban Development are still working on the guidelines for how the money should be disbursed.

O’Neil says some studies indicate there will be a 45% increase in homelessness because of the fallout from COVID-19.

“That’s the part that has us the most concerned. Today alone as we eek closer to that May 27 date, our numbers are continuing to rise due to lack of employment, they haven’t been able to pay rent, landlords are starting to ask for their rent. They’re giving people notice that it’s coming, and that’s when we’re starting to see more and more people. That’s the story we’re hearing on the front line from our clients,” said O’Neil.

O’Neil says the easiest solution would be to extend the moratorium on evictions until the CARES Act money can be disbursed. In the meantime, O’Neil plans to use CISS resources to accommodate people who have lost their homes. But she fears other shelters around the state may not have that option.


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