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January 23, 2022

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Official: At least 100K Nevadans are at risk of eviction

Las Vegas Township Constable's Office

Christopher DeVargas

File photo: Sgt. Patrick Geary of the Las Vegas Township Constable’s Office posts a notice of eviction on the door of a local motel, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011.

Social services providers across Southern Nevada are encouraging tenants still struggling to pay their rent to apply for pandemic housing relief before it’s too late.

Jim Berchtold, an attorney with the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, told a crowd gathered Wednesday morning for a housing resource presentation at the Desert Breeze Community Center that an estimated 100,000 to 140,000 Nevadans are at risk of eviction. Nevada’s eviction moratorium ended on May 31, and eviction notices are going out in local courts.

“That’s a lot of people,” he said. “People are desperate.”

Tim Burch, Clark County’s Administrator of Human Services, said the county has distributed about $110 million in rental assistance. He said he knows people are flustered and panicking, but they should take their time filling out their assistance application. Most applications have been initially submitted with errors attaching the needed documentation.

Kimberly Ireland is one of the people who has unsuccessfully tried to get assistance.

The native Las Vegan finally returned to full-time work this week as a dispatcher for the bell staff at a Strip resort. She was back on duty after the casinos reopened last summer from their unprecedented two-month shutdown, but she was only part-time until now.

The loss in hours put Ireland months behind on rent in the Spring Valley home where she is living with her two adult children, who were both also temporarily unemployed, and an infant grandson. She said her home’s owner, an independent mom-and-pop landlord, has been gracious and kind through the tight times and a twice-rejected assistance application.

But Ireland said her landlord wants the property back to lease to someone who can make steady payments. She understands.

Though on the road to personal financial recovery, Ireland is still daunted by the move-in costs for a potential new place, which she plans to take on as an empty-nester. She’s hopeful the housing relief navigators can find a funding source for people in transition who are doing better than they were a year ago, but still behind where they were two years ago.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Ireland said. “We’re forced into this. It’s not by choice.”

Assemblywoman Brittney Miller, D-Las Vegas, said that without the moratoriums, locals would have suffered incalculable trauma.

Miller supported a bill this legislative session, signed into law, that helps smaller landlords who might be left out of federal relief programs and pauses pending eviction proceedings once a person applies for rent assistance.

“Maybe the United States didn’t hit depression numbers when it came to unemployment, but Nevada did,” Miller said.

A federal evictions ban handed down by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still in effect until June 30. Berchtold said this moratorium doesn’t have many protections, but it offers some, so he encouraged renters on the edge to fill out a CDC declaration on the Legal Aid of Southern Nevada website.

Then, they need to apply for rental assistance and reply in court if their landlord has served them. If a renter receives a notice to vacate and does nothing, the eviction will go through by default, Berchtold said. He also said to request mediation, which is free and gives tenants more time in their homes as they work things out with their landlords.

Burch’s department has converted mostly to helping people stay in their homes. He said the housing recovery will lag 18 to 24 months behind the start of the economic turnaround.

“The crisis for housing and social services is just starting,” he said.

The Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada will walk people who have received eviction notices through the paperwork at free legal advice clinics June 12 at the West Las Vegas Library, 951 W. Lake Mead Blvd., and the Clark County Library at 1401 E. Flamingo Road. Both events run from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.