Douglas County, Rest of the State Seeing Rise in Eviction Cases, Says Legal Aid

Nov. 2, 2021, 1 p.m. ·

For rent sign with a brick apartment building in the background and tree branches in the foreground.
A federal eviction moratorium put in place during the pandemic expired at the end of July. (Photo courtesy NPR Creative Commons)

Douglas County is seeing a rise in eviction cases this week, according to an attorney from Legal Aid of Nebraska, a statewide provider of free legal services.

Scott Mertz, the director of the housing justice project at Legal Aid of Nebraska, said it may be one of the busiest weeks since the start of the pandemic. The rise in eviction cases stems from an end to federal and state eviction protections.

"It’s a real burden felt by the community where individuals who are evicted don’t just go away," Mertz said. "Of course, that becomes an issue of addressing temporary shelter, homeless prevention. I mean, our housing stock. There's simply not a lot of housing – much less a lot of housing for low income individuals."

Mertz estimates he's seen about 80 eviction cases this week. In weeks prior, he saw between 30 to 50. And those increases, he said, aren’t just felt in Douglas County – but the rest of the state, too.

Rental assistance, which Mertz said has done a adequate job thus far in preventing more missed payments, is still available for those struggling to catch up on rent.

A federal eviction moratorium put in place during the pandemic expired at the end of July. Nebraska is like most states and did not chose to extend state-level moratoriums. A handful – Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York – extended different types of renter protections.