All Iowans should have access to safe, stable housing throughout the COVID-19 public health crises and economic fallout. They should also be protected from the long-term financial effects of an eviction or near-eviction.
This is crucial. About one-third of all Iowa households are rentals, and even before COVID-19, 28 percent of Iowa renter households were extremely low-income.
Further, Black Iowans are especially hard-hit. Black renters in Iowa have been 4.8 times more likely than white renters to have evictions filed against them. In particular, studies show that Black women are more likely to have their eviction cases dismissed by a judge because they were not well-founded. Survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and gender-based violence are disproportionately affected as well.
We appreciate what Governor Reynolds has done so far. Earlier this year, the ACLU of Iowa, along with dozens of civil rights organizations and community services, successfully asked her to issue an evictions moratorium during the global pandemic. She did that. We also asked her to authorize additional federal funding to minimize evictions, and she has done that, also.
Now it's the Iowa Legislature's turn. It must change the law to protect Iowans from being denied future rental opportunities by allowing for expungement – that is, permanent removal – of some eviction records from the public record. Too often, renters are unfairly haunted by records of evictions filings. This problem has only grown with the COVID-19 crisis. Examples include:
These records show up every time you apply for a new apartment or mortgage, and even in things like work-related background checks. This process excludes thousands of people each year from safe housing and job advancement. It's not fair and it needs to stop.
With gratitude for your support,
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