Housing Advocacy Organizations Ask Gov. Ricketts to Temporarily Suspend Evictions

Nov. 24, 2020, 4:10 p.m. ·

Nonprofit housing advocacy organizations sent a letter to Gov. Pete Ricketts last week, asking him to issue another executive order to temporarily suspend evictions. Due to COVID-19 concerns, Lancaster and Douglas County courts closed all in-person hearings earlier this month, except for eviction hearings.

Director of Advocacy and Policy at Together Dr. Erin Feichtinger said only the governor has the power to suspend the statutory requirement mandated in §76-1446 that eviction hearings be held within 10-14 days.

“It’s just a common sense thing to do," she said. "It's the responsible thing to do and, and to put people at risk of COVID-19 because of a statute that we can suspend just doesn't make a lot of sense right now. We all need to be in this together if we're going to keep saying it.”

Feichtinger said there’s 81 eviction hearings scheduled in Douglas County next week. That’s about 20 people a day in a small courtroom, without the lawyers and family members involved.

Kasey Ogle is the staff attorney for Collective Impact Lincoln at Nebraska Appleseed. She said organizations are also urging the governor to suspend evictions because people may have to merge households or go to a shelter.

“It's really difficult to contain the spread with a lot of movement and with households merging together," Ogle said. "So really, until we can get a genuine handle on the spread of COVID-19, evictions are a public health threat to the community.”

Gov. Ricketts suspended the statute back in March out of a concern for Nebraskans impacted by COVID-19.