A call to pause evictions for another month in Mecklenburg

A call to pause evictions for another month in Mecklenburg

People lined up for affordable housing on Freedom Drive in January 2020. Photo: Alvin Jacobs

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U.S. Rep. Alma Adams is calling on local officials to halt evictions in Mecklenburg County as federal protections are set to expire, according to a letter she shared with Axios.

What’s happening: Adams, whose district covers most of Charlotte, sent the letter to Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden, Chief District Court Judge Elizabeth Trosch and Mecklenburg County Clerk of Superior Court Elisa Chinn-Gary Tuesday afternoon asking for an effective ban on evictions through the month of August or later.

  • Adams says the local moratorium is necessary so that those who have not yet applied for the assistance can have a chance to do so.
  • RAMPCLT, the local rental and mortgage assistance program funded with federal stimulus money, has helped more than 5,600 households, according to Adams’ letter. But it has had almost three times as many applicants.
  • Crisis Assistance Ministry has provided rent and utility aid to more than 17,000 families during COVID-19, she says.

Yes, but: McFadden tells me his department is required by law to carry out evictions ordered by the courts. He asked the courts in March 2020 not to issue eviction notices because of COVID-19. “It’s not up to me,” he says.

Zoom out: The economic crisis unleashed by COVID-19 led millions of people to fall behind on rent payments. That led the federal government and states to ban landlords from evicting tenants for nonpayment.

  • But those protections have begun to run out. North Carolina’s eviction moratorium expired at the beginning of July after state officials shot down a proposal to extend it. And the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium ends July 31.
  • “When this moratorium ends, it’s going to really devastate our community,” Adams says.

The other side: The loss of rental income has also hit landlords. A group of landlords challenged the CDC’s moratorium in court, arguing that keeping the ban on some evictions would prolong their financial difficulties. The Supreme Court kept the moratorium in place.

Adams also says the organizations she spoke with that are administering assistance like DreamKey Partners and Crisis worry about not being able to handle a potential deluge of applicants once the moratorium expires.

Other state and local governments have extended eviction moratoriums, such as New York and Durham.

While she says an additional month may not be enough, it’s a start to help bring families into the system. “We are already in a critical housing situation right now,” she says. “If we cannot sort of halt this process for now, give some more expanded time, then the issue is going to be just exacerbated.”

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