On April 29, Jesse McCoy (@JHamiltonMcCoy2), Attorney with the Duke University Civil Justice Clinic and the Durham Eviction Diversion Program, joined us for a Twitter chat. He answered questions about evictions in Durham during the COVID-19 outbreak.
We posed 7 questions. Here are the highlights from the discussion:
First, we polled our Twitter followers, and 88% said they didn’t understand or were unsure about eviction prevention measures in Durham.
A couple of participants had specific questions. @madelineoncodes asked:
If you get an eviction filed now, but you pay all rent owed before the courts open, can the eviction still go forward?Link to Tweet
And @marsisbored asked:
How many people are evicted daily in Durham and how has that # been impacted by COVID. Also how are DHA properties being impacted?Link to Tweet
Jesse told @madelineoncodes that:
non-essential courts are closed until June 1st. So no eviction hearings will occur until then.
if the balance is paid, you should secure written assurance that your case will be dismissed. Otherwise it is subject to being rescheduled after June 1 unless and until an actual voluntary dismissal is filed with the Courts by your landlord.Link to Tweet
We provided the latest on eviction numbers:
Generally, there have been ~900 evictions filings per month in recent years, which averages 30/day. There’s a lot of daily variation, tho, sometimes 5 – sometimes 151 as on 03/03/2020 or 101 as on 03/30/2020Link to Tweet
And Jesse commented on DHA properties:
We know that DHA was in the midst of heavy filing in March prior to the issuance of COVID-19 related stay-at-home orders, but the hearings and service of previously obtained orders had been halted until June 1st .Link to Tweet
Next we asked why Jesse thought we saw more evictions in March 2020 than in March 2019.
Jesse said this is likely related to the economic burdens of COVID-19:
in March of 2020 we experienced our first wave of school closings and job losses, likely increasing childcare needs and restricting revenues for families working paycheck to paycheck. I would guess that these issues will increase until we reopen.Link to Tweet
We’ve heard that the federal coronavirus stimulus bill prevents some landlords who receive federal assistance from evicting anyone until July 25.
We shared this list of unevictable properties in the Triangle:
And asked Jesse what it means for tenants.
Jesse told us:
The purpose of the federal stimulus is to inhibit Evictions by landlords who receive federal money for the purpose of housing. These properties tend to be for qualifying low income renters. There is no current stimulus for private landlords not getting fed $.Link to Tweet
He also said your landlord must go through the court process (any time, not just during COVID-19) to evict. If your unit is covered by some federal assistance program (e.g. section 8), the bill provides an additional protection.
We asked Jesse what he thinks needs to happen to avoid the rush of cases he’s anticipating when the courts reopen.
He called for financial relief:
We need Government intervention designed to institute either financial relief for those unemployed by this situation, or at the very least, extended repayment plans. Rent cancellation is also a possibility, though this is a more politically charged measure.Link to Tweet
Finally, we asked what resources would be helpful to include on our evictions website.
Jesse wanted to make sure Durham tenants were aware of the Eviction Diversion Program, a partnership between DSS, Legal Aid, and Duke Civil Justice Clinic.
Currently we are galvanizing on all fronts to meet what we believe will be a flood of eviction cases once the courts open. Legal Aid has increased its staffing of attorneys, we are meeting with DSS to train their social workers to recognize these issues.Link to Tweet
We’d love to hear from you too! Send us a tweet or comment on this post if you have ideas.