Article updated at 11:04 p.m. Friday, July 30 and 4:09 p.m. Saturday, July 31:
Starting Saturday, there will be no federal legal protections in place to stop evictions, which could mean a lot of people will lose housing.
At the national level, Democrats in Washington, D.C. on Friday failed to find a way to extend the federal moratorium that has prevented landlords from kicking people out of homes amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Though housing advocates are pushing for states and localities to enact their own eviction moratoriums, Kansas legislators in June moved to end the state’s eviction ban. In Douglas County District Court, multiple eviction trials are already scheduled in the first week of August.
If you’re at risk of losing your housing in Lawrence, here’s what you need to know.
What does an eviction notice mean?
• If a tenant receives notice from their landlord that they’re being evicted for not paying rent, they don’t have to leave right away. They have three days from the time of notice to either pay rent or leave the property. Rent payments that have been properly addressed, stamped and mailed constitute as paid (you might take a picture when you drop it in the mailbox). Per Kansas Legal Services, this notice is required; landlords can’t evict tenants by changing locks or turning off utilities, and if they do, they can be sued.
• If you receive an eviction notice, your landlord still has to take you to court to evict you, according to Kansas Legal Services. You’ll receive a notice of a court date, and you must show up or the landlord automatically wins. After the first court date, the judge will set an eviction trial, where both sides can present evidence.
• A landlord can also evict a tenant for violating the lease terms, such as having pets when pets aren’t allowed or housing additional residents who aren’t on the lease. In this case, the tenant has 14 days to fix the violation and provide proof of it before the lease ends.
• Tenants who are facing an eviction and need assistance can apply for it online or call Kansas Legal Services at 800-723-6953.
• Tenants can also continue to apply for assistance through the Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance program. In order to qualify for KERA, the household’s income can’t be higher than 80% of the area median income, and the tenant should be able to document pandemic-related financial hardship. Apply for KERA at this link.
Shelter, housing and available resources
• Lawrence Community Shelter: The Lawrence Community Shelter is operating under limited capacity and implementing COVID-19 safety measures such as screening potential guests. People seeking shelter or advocates for potential guests can call 785-856-2016 to be added to the shelter’s intake waitlist.
• Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority: Douglas County residents with incomes at or below 80% of the area median income can find housing through LDCHA. From Monday to Thursday, LDCHA also offers other resources such as case management services and rent deduction information. Call them at 785-842-8110 and apply for housing here.
• Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center: The Bert Nash center’s homeless outreach program assists individuals with and without mental illness with finding food and shelter. The center can be reached 24 hours a day at 785-843-9192.
• DARE (Drop-in and Rest) Center: The center at 944 Kentucky St. is a volunteer program of the Coalition for Homeless Concerns Inc. Its mission is to “offer a daily refuge with basic services to provide physical and emotional comfort for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.” Reach the center at 785-856-0698.
• Lawrence Humane Society’s Crisis Pet Retention program: The humane society wants to help pet owners keep their pets. Learn about what help is available at this link; apply for help at this link.
• ECKAN Community Center: ECKAN provides a hub in several Kansas cities for housing vouchers, counseling, food assistance, case management and rental housing. Douglas County’s ECKAN center can be reached at 785-841-3357.
• Tenants to Homeowners: Tenants to Homeowners, Inc. offers four different rental programs to Lawrence residents alongside financial support to renters with reduced income due to COVID-19. Click here for eligibility information.
• Family Promise of Lawrence: Lawrence families with children can find shelter and transitional housing through the Family Promise organization. Family Promise’s Help Us Move In program assists families with move-in costs through grant funding. Reach Family Promise at 785-764-9506.
• Free meals in Lawrence: Find a list and map of where to get free meals at this link.
Are we missing something?
If you’re aware of other resources that could be helpful to your neighbors in Lawrence, please let us know by emailing hello (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com.