Another month is ending and rent is coming due. For weeks, KX News has been following efforts by groups like the ACLU to convince the Governor to freeze evictions during the pandemic.
Tonight, we have details of new potential help from the state — and the story of a man in Williston being forced out of his home after property owner, Target Hospitality is closing the crew camp he currently lives in.
“Pushing me out during the middle of a pandemic is highly-likely to end up resulting in my demise,” said James Schraeder, Williston resident.
Schraeder was notified at the beginning of April that he was being evicted from the places he’s called home since 2018.
He said he has no issues paying his rent. He’s even offered to pay multiple months in advance to be allowed to stay through the pandemic.
Schraeder is considered high-risk: he has asthma, obesity, hypertension and will turn 60 this fall.
“I’d like somebody to kindly just say, ‘James, you don’t have to go. We understand that your situation is potentially lethal for you.’ And, that’s just not happening,” said Schraeder.
Advocacy groups like the ACLU have been asking Gov. Burgum to implement an eviction moratorium, to keep people in their homes during the crisis.
Dane DeKrey said he thinks people who were asked to not go to work to prevent the spread of coronavirus shouldn’t be at risk for eviction.
“This doesn’t seem like North Dakota nice. I get that it has to be a business decision, but in this pandemic, when other people are making sacrifices, it doesn’t necessarily seem fair to me that we expect some to make sacrifice, but not others,” said DeKrey, Advocacy director.
Gov. Burgum said he’s not interested in a moratorium. He said stimulus checks and boosts to unemployment assistance should make up for lost income. He also said there are other reasons that property owners should be able to pursue evictions.
“If you’ve got someone who’s running illegal activity, I would say the people that own property also have rights and they have to have access to due process themselves. Again, I trust our courts and their judgement,” said Gov. Burgum.
At Thursday’s press conference, the state announced a “rent bridge program,” meant to help people stay in their homes if they’re struggling to afford rent. More details are expected on that program this Saturday.
In the meantime, Schraeder and other residents in Williston are left looking for new places to call home.
“I’m not the only one. It just turns out I’m the one that decided to say something. It isn’t to hurt anyone. It’s to help make better decisions, and a better government, and, frankly, a better North Dakota, which I would like to continue to be part of,” Schraeder said.
We tried reaching out to the property owner, Target Hospitality, but the number and extension did not work — it actually hung up once the extension was entered.