Gov. Doug Burgum said that “good health starts with stable housing.”
But for North Dakotans whose income has been impacted because of involuntary unemployment, extended sickness or required quarantine during the COVID-19 crisis, stable housing is a major concern – especially now that the North Dakota Supreme Court has lifted its ban on eviction hearings and Gov. Burgum won’t issue a temporary moratorium on eviction actions in the state.
The Supreme Court’s ban on eviction hearings was one of the reasons Gov. Burgum said he didn’t need to issue a temporary eviction moratorium when the ACLU of North Dakota and other North Dakota nonprofits urged him to do so. The other was that the government’s stimulus checks and increase in jobless benefits for people thrown out of work for no fault of their own were coming.
“As the number of positive cases in North Dakota rises, it is becoming evident that the COVID-19 public health emergency is an economic emergency as well,” said Dane DeKrey, advocacy director for the ACLU of North Dakota. “For many people, the government checks aren’t coming fast enough. And now that eviction hearings can continue, what protections do people in danger of losing their housing have?”
Stable housing is important for people to safeguard their health, the health of their families and other North Dakotans. The ACLU of North Dakota is again asking Gov. Burgum to issue a temporary eviction moratorium.
“Issuing a temporary eviction moratorium is the right thing for Gov. Burgum to do and would be a vital tool to keep North Dakotans in their homes and to mitigate the community spread of COVID-19 in our state,” DeKrey said.
North Dakota would not be the first to place a moratorium on evictions. Multiple other states, counties, cities and judicial districts across the country also have issued directives to suspend evictions during the COVID-19 crisis.
About the ACLU of North Dakota
The American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU of North Dakota is part of a three-state chapter that also includes South Dakota and Wyoming. The team in North Dakota is supported by staff in those states.
The ACLU believes freedoms of press, speech, assembly, and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection and privacy, are fundamental to a free people. In addition, the ACLU seeks to advance constitutional protections for groups traditionally denied their rights, including people of color, women, and the LGBTQ communities. The ACLU of North Dakota carries out its work through selective litigation, lobbying at the state and local level, and through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for the people of North Dakota.