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Evictions On The Rise In Southern Nevada

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Associated Press

Evictions used to be a rare occurrence, but that's changing in Clark County. 

According to numbers from the Las Vegas Justice Court, more than 30,000 renters were evicted from their homes in 2016 - that's a 43 percent increase from 2009. That comes to about 82 evictions per day. 

And, according to a recent article in the Gleaner, those high numbers may not even show the full picture, thanks to the lack of a real tracking system. 

The author of that article, Hugh Jackson, told KNPR's State of Nevada that many people are being evicted because they simply don't have jobs that pay enough.

He said the eviction increase is a indicator of a much larger economic problem.

"The evictions is really just kind of a dramatic indicator of the larger: A) overlooking of housing policy that we've done in the nation and in the state for a long, long time and that larger issue of what the actual economy is and how people are dealing with it or not," he said. 

Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani agreed that people are not being paid a living wage, which means they can't pay rent. She said it starts a whole cycle of poverty that is very tough to break.

"You have people who work month to month and they're paycheck to paycheck," she said, "If you even got paid the $8.25 an hour, you're making $960 a month and your average rent is $900 a month. What do you do first, if you've got a family, you pay the rent before you feed your kids."

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There are laws unique to Nevada that could be contributing to the high number of evictions, according to Dawn Miller, who is the senior attorney for Nevada Legal Services.

"Generally speaking, many other states require... they may require a notice, but they still require the landlord to then file a summons and complaint and initiate the court action. Here it is up to the tenant to read the notice, understand it... and then go to the court and file a tenants affidavit. 

Miller said it is up to the landlord to decide what kind of eviction notice they file.

"So often times, tenants are given the wrong kind of notice," she said and there are what she called "service problems," like when a tenant doesn't receive a notice or the dates on it are incorrect. 

Eric Newmark is an attorney for the Nevada State Apartment Association, which represents landlords. Newmark said most of the landlords in his group prefer to work something out with the tenants.

"They don't like to go to court," he said, "No one likes to go to court. Contrary to popular belief, they do not want to evict. It takes time. It takes money. That's not the preference."

Newmark said landlords aren't just major corporations that own several large complexes, but they are also people who own one or two homes that they rent to pay for the mortgage.

Newark is hopeful that new apartments that are under construction around Southern Nevada right now will help lower rent prices across the board and provide more affordable housing for everyone. 

But Jackson doesn't believe the problem can be fixed by market forces.

"The market itself, the equilibrium, between what people are earning and what rent costs has been thrown out of whack," he said, "That market has failed in effect [and created] a situation where people who are working... can't afford to pay rent."

He believes more aggressive affordable housing policy on the state and local level must be part of the solution. 

Guests

Hugh Jackson, writer, The Gleaner; Dawn Miller, senior attorney, Nevada Legal Services; Eric Newmark, attorney, Nevada State Apartment Association, Chris Giunchigliani, Clark County Commissioner 

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