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Advocates worry about end of Kansas ban on COVID evictions

May 29, 2021 GMT

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Advocates for renters in Kansas are troubled by the end of the state’s ban on evictions and foreclosures on home mortgages for people who are struggling financially because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Top Republican lawmakers on Friday rescinded the executive order from Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly imposing the ban. State law gives leaders of the GOP-controlled Legislature the power to rescind such orders.

Republicans have long argued that the state’s moratorium prevents landlords from getting paid. Many landlords have their own mortgages to pay on the properties they rent.

But advocates told The Topeka Capital-Journal that ending the state’s ban is troubling because of questions about how long a nationwide ban from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will stay in place. The CDC ban, imposed through June, would prevent evictions and foreclosures in Kansas, but it could be nullified by a federal lawsuit.

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“If that goes away, I think we’re going to be in for a world of hurt,” said Dustin Hare, a Wyandotte County organizer.

Hare said the CDC’s ban was more effective. But Vince Munoz, an organizer with the advocacy group Rent Zero Kansas, said providing rental assistance is not as helpful as “simply saying we aren’t going to have evictions.”

The state has a rental assistance program and an aid program specifically for Wichita residents.

But advocates don’t like that the Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance program pays landlords instead tenants. Also, it has processed only 167 of 4,038 applications.