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Avoiding Eviction: Kentucky Equal Justice Center Creates App To Protect Renters

Ryan Van Velzer

An online tool created by a Kentucky non-profit advocacy group is helping protect renters from eviction during the pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) placed a moratorium on evictions until the end of the year to help people battling economic hardships due to the pandemic, as well as prevent additional spread of COVID-19.

The CDC’s eviction protections are only available to people that qualify and after they fill out a declaration. Protection is not automatic. The CDC’s order applies to all renters, including those living in apartments and homes.

The Kentucky Equal Justice Center is offering a tool that allows renters to sign the declaration on a smartphone, tablet, or computer. Through their app or website, renters can review, sign, and email the documentation to their landlords in three to five minutes.

Ben Carter is an attorney and the senior litigation and advocacy counsel at the Kentucky Equal Justice Center. He said preventing evictions during a pandemic can help slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.

“There was a study out of Philadelphia that showed preventing as few as 60 evictions was enough to save one person’s life,” Carter explained. “If you have people moving into and doubling up with family or friends, COVID spreads more quickly and the more people that catch it, the more people die. And so just preventing a few dozen evictions actually could save a life.”

Carter said the app is user-friendly, and the tool can be used across the nation. He encourages other states to duplicate the app and customize it to fit local needs. He also encourages people to look into additional rental assistance programs in their area.

“Different local governments are administering these rental assistance programs very differently, and what is available, and what your legal rights are varies sometimes from county to county, if not definitely from state to state,” Carter added.

Carter said the online resource was created to make sure that anyone who is eligible for the eviction protections can receive them.

“There are going to be a percentage of people who are eligible for protection that just don’t get those protections, not because they don’t qualify just because they don’t know about the program,” Carter said.

The CDC’s eviction moratorium is set to expire December 31. 

Former student intern Alana Watson rejoined WKU Public Radio in August 2020 as the Ohio Valley ReSource economics reporter. She transitioned to the station's All Things Considered Host in July of 2020. Watson is a 2017 graduate of Western Kentucky University and has a B.A. in Broadcasting Journalism. She also has her M.A in Communications from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN. Watson is a Nashville native and has interned at WPLN-FM in Nashville. In 2019, she won a Tennessee AP Broadcaster & Editors Award for her sports feature on Belmont University's smallest point guard. While at WKU Public Radio she won Best College Radio Reporter in 2016 from the Kentucky Ap Broadcasters Association for her work on post-apartheid South Africa. Watson was previously at Wisconsin Public Radio as thier 2nd Century Fellow where she did general assignment and feature reporting in Milwaukee.
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