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Half Of SD Counties Protected By New Eviction Ban, 96% Of State Aid Unspent

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PBS
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About half of South Dakota counties are protected by the new federal eviction ban as 96% of federal housing aid to the state remains unspent.  

The CDC moratorium on evictions related to non-payment of rent applies to counties that have “high” or “substantial” spread of the coronavirus.  

 

That covers 32 of South Dakota’s 66 counties, according to CDC data. Pennington, Minnehaha and Hughes are among the protected counties while evictions can resume in Brookings, Yankton, Davison and 31 other counties.  

 

This is “great” news, said Brent Thompson, executive director of East River Legal Services, which assists vulnerable clients with eviction cases. “I mean we’ve already seen a huge increase (in eviction filings) here so hopefully this buys some time.”  

 

The new moratorium replaces a previous, broader moratorium that expired Sunday after the Supreme Court ruled it couldn’t be extended. The new measure bans landlords from evicting tenants who can’t make their rent as long as the tenants meet certain conditions: 

 

The renter must earn less than $99,000 a year or $198,000 if filing jointly; 

The renter can’t pay full rent due to “substantial loss” of income or “extraordinary” medical costs; 

The renter makes their “best efforts” to obtain available aid and pay as much rent as they can; 

The renter would likely be homeless or forced to live in a shared living situation if they were evicted.  

 

The Biden administration announced the new, partial eviction ban on Tuesday after pressure from activists and some Democratic lawmakers. It says it will cover about 90% of the nation’s renters 

 

The moratorium, which expires Oct. 3, is meant to prevent people from moving into shelters and other shared living spaces where the virus is more likely to spread. It does not prevent landlords from evicting tenants who break laws or rules on their lease. 

 

Thompson said his office will use the extended deadline to educate renters about aid to help prevent them from being evicted at a later date.  

 

“Frankly we’ve seen a lot of people aren’t aware that that assistance exists,” he said.  

 

The South Dakota Housing Development Authority has been allotted $319.7 million in aid from the federal government but has only distributed $12.9 million or 4% of it, according to data from July 30

 

The SDHDA has aid for renters and homeowners who’ve been financially impacted by the pandemic and meet income guidelines. The money can help cover rent, mortgage, utility and insurance payments.  

 

The agency is working with 11 partners across the state to administer and raise awareness about the aid, said Executive Director Lorraine Polak. 

 

Local and tribal governments have additional aid.  

 

South Dakota’s low disbursement rate is not unique. Three billion – or 7% – of the $47 billion in federal housing aid has been distributed across the country, according to the New York Times.  

 

51% percent of South Dakotans said they are at risk of being evicted or foreclosed upon in the next two months, according to a recent online survey by the U.S. Census. 19% said they missed the last month’s rent or mortgage, or fear they won’t make the next one. 21% said it’s difficult to pay for household expenses.  

 

For more information and to apply for aid, visit sdcareshousingassistance.com. For questions call SDSHA at 800-540-4241 or the Helpline at 211.