Is there an eviction moratorium?
In short, no.
In March, as COVID-19 began interrupting service and retail work, North Carolina Chief Justice Cheri Beasley issued an order to help tenants who may no longer be able to pay rent. Intended to prevent potential community spread of COVID-19 due to exposures at the state’s courthouses, the order prevented eviction cases from being heard from March 15 through April 17. (Note: Chief Justice Beasley issued another order that extended this time to June 1.) But it did not prevent evictions from being filed.
In fact (as shown in the chart below), there were 248 more evictions filed in Durham during March 2020 than in the same month last year. 299 of those in 2020 were filed after March 15, when the emergency tenant protection came into effect.
Some of the locations driving the numbers in March
In March of 2020, the areas with the highest number of evictions filings were:
- Near Cornwallis Road and Weaver Street
- Duke Manor Apartments
- Foxfire Apartments on Newcastle and Wyldewood Roads
Without barring new eviction filings during the crisis of COVID-19 and simultaneously suspending rent and mortgage payments, this growing backlog of evictions (and the associated filing fees) could simply hit tenants harder later on.
Jesse McCoy, Attorney with the Duke University Civil Justice Clinic and Legal Aid of NC, is worried about the tenants he represents who are facing eviction in Durham.
“The big concern now is for all of the folks who have had their employment reduced or eliminated because of these shutdowns. The bills have still accrued, and but for the stimulus check, I’m not sure any additional governmental relief will be forthcoming. So we are likely to see a sharp increase in evictions whenever Court opens back up.”
And as we move into a potentially major recession with little understanding of when, or if, work and wages will return to pre-COVID-19 status, this initial problem of rents (and mortgages) will have to be addressed to prevent mass evictions.
Let’s talk about what’s happening with evictions in Durham
Why is March of this year so different from last March?
Where the increase has been happening–what kind of properties are contributing to the spike?
What financial relief could the government provide?
These are just a few of the questions we hope to answer during our #dataworkschat. And according to our Twitter poll, many of you have questions too. Join us on Wednesday, April 29th at 12:00pm EDT as we welcome our guest, Jesse McCoy to get a better understanding of what’s happening with COVID-19 and evictions in Durham.