DES MOINES, Iowa — Over the course of a few months, the Polk County Housing Trust Fund was able to raise over $500,000 to help Iowans facing eviction.
The funding organization has been able to save a little over 720 households from being evicted during this pandemic including 721 children.
Through the Justice Center Project that was created in September, Polk County Housing Trust Fund has halted these evictions by directly paying landlords the back rent that is owed.
The funding organization then steers tenants towards resources that help them in the months to follow.
Iowa Legal Aid saw a 200-percent increase in eviction cases in 2020 from 2019.
“This is really an emergency situation that requires an emergency response and so it really is serving our mission and ensuring that people have the opportunity to stay housed and stay safe and stay at home at this really important time,” the Director of Communications and Community Outreach at Polk County Housing Trust Fund, Lauren Johnson said.
Johnson said evictions aren’t just happening in Des Moines, but across all metro suburbs including Urbandale, West Des Moines and Altoona.
Polk County is expected to receive additional funds coming from the Department of Treasury at the end of January to assist with rent relief. Johnson said Polk County Housing Trust Fund plans on restructuring the Justice Center Project to be more accommodating to Polk County tenants and landlords.
“Really just making sure that we have the resources and are available to be down there at the Justice Center and help folks where they’re at,” Johnson said. “Additionally, it would be great to have the opportunity to really intercept that process prior to the eviction being filed. So that’s a goal for 2021.”
In total, the Polk County Housing Trust Fund has spent more than $1.3 million on eviction prevention efforts.