KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of KC Tenants, is suing a Jackson County Circuit Court judge, alleging that a recent order directly goes against the Center for Disease Control’s eviction moratorium.
On Sept. 4, the CDC issued a Declaration Form, which allows people making housing payments to avoid getting evicted due to lost income during the pandemic. Those who fill out the form must meet several criteria, including making best efforts to complete payments, acknowledging that those payments ultimately will need to be made, and stating that an eviction will likely lead to homelessness.
The administrative order, signed by Jackson County Presiding Judge David Byrn, allows anyone seeking an eviction to file a Verification form, stating that they have not been given a CDC Declaration Form. The Verification also can allow people to move forward with evictions if their grounds for removal is not addressed in the CDC form.
Anyone facing eviction can then fight the Verification in court.
A statement sent by Tara Raghuveer with KC Tenants said that the court’s order “directly conflicts” with the CDC’s moratorium.
“Despite the CDC issuing a federal moratorium on evictions… tenants across the country are still at risk of losing their homes in the middle of a pandemic,” according to the statement.
The federal lawsuit, filed with Western District of Missouri, accuses the judge of “creating a system of eviction-related evidentiary hearings to allow landlords to challenge tenants’ declarations in any and all cases and continue to pursue eviction actions.” It claims this runs directly contrary to the CDC and violates residents’ due process.
The suit seeks to halt the judge’s order, set legal precedent by getting the federal court to state that the order is against federal law, and provide necessary relief.
“This lawsuit has the potential to set the precedent for other jurisdictions across the country that have implemented similar orders,” according to the KC Tenants statement.