The Sioux City Human Rights Commission is working to educate tenants about their housing rights and hosted a fair housing workshop Monday to help renters advocate for themselves.
Commission director Karen Mackey says it’s especially important now to understand your rights as the competitive housing market is leading Iowa tenants to accept worse treatment. “If you’re going to go into a situation where you’re renting from someone who you know is not a great landlord, to know what your rights are, and be very firm from the get go,” Mackey says, “and to know what they don’t have to put up with, that’s important.”
The Iowa Finance Authority reports that more than 40% of renters spend a third of their income on housing. Mackey says that leaves many Iowans vulnerable to eviction and discrimination. Jessica Ryan, an investigator with the commission, says a shortage of affordable housing options often leads tenants to desperate decisions.
“They’re willing to accept anything because of the competitiveness, because there’s such a shortage and such a crunch,” Ryan says. “You don’t know what you don’t know, so we’re trying to fill that gap in a little bit.” The workshop will also provide resources for those facing eviction.
Iowa Legal Aid predicts that 2022 will bring a record number of evictions, according to a report by Axios Des Moines. That’s partly due to a loss of COVID-19 emergency aid.
(By Kendall Crawford, Iowa Public Radio)