Advocates worried about ending Kansas’ COVID deportation ban


TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Tenant advocates in Kansas are troubled by the end of the state’s ban on evictions and mortgage foreclosures for people experiencing financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Leading Republican lawmakers on Friday overturned Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s executive order imposing the ban. State law gives leaders of the GOP-controlled Legislature the power to overrule such orders.

Republicans have long argued that the state’s moratorium prevents homeowners from getting paid. Many homeowners have their own mortgages payable on the properties they rent out.

But advocates told Topeka Capital-Journal that ending the state’s ban was troubling over questions about the length of a nationwide ban from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC’s ban, imposed until June, would prevent evictions and foreclosures in Kansas, but it could be overturned by federal lawsuit.

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

Hare said the CDC ban was more effective. But Vince Munoz, an organizer for the Rent Zero Kansas advocacy group, said providing rental assistance was not as helpful as “just saying we’re not going to have evictions.”

The state has a housing assistance program and an assistance program specifically for residents of Wichita.

But advocates don’t like the Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance program paying landlords instead of tenants. In addition, it only processed 167 of the 4,038 requests.

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