Nearly one million evictions took place nationwide in 2016. And the Triad is not immune to the problem, which some experts are calling a crisis.
In fact, both Greensboro and Winston-Salem are among the top 20 cities for evictions in the United States. That's according to the latest data from The Eviction Lab, a project run by Princeton University.
WFDD's Sean Bueter spoke with Brett Byerly of the Greensboro Housing Coalition to find out more.
Byerly says the data doesn't surprise him, and city partners are trying to figure out how to bring the numbers down.
On why Greensboro (and other North Carolina cities) struggle with high eviction rates:
Part of it is, certainly, that wages have stagnated in this area while rents have continued to increase. So the buying power of the dollar is just not what it needs to be. There's a lot of $1,200-$1,300 per month apartments and houses that are on the market and there's a lot of people making below 30 percent of area median income in that extremely low-income category.
You have somewhere north of 20,000 households in Greensboro alone that are paying more than 50 percent of their income towards their rent. And it doesn't take but one broken down car or one hospitalization or the loss of an income before somebody finds themselves in this kind of situation.
On the many reasons evictions can take place:
Mostly it is for non-payment of rent...but other reasons are for a violation of the lease terms. Criminal activity that may occur on the property – that happens quite often with the housing authority – it's not necessarily the person that lives there but the guest of the person that lived there. If you have a guest on your property and they come and do something that's illegal then you're subject to being evicted. That one happens fairly often. [Also,] having more people in the property than what's allowable. And then some evictions – I think more in Durham and other areas where the costs are rising – are "if we evict this person then we can get somebody in here that pays more."
On working to make things better:
A lot of stakeholders are coming together. We're not just asking tenants; we're asking landlords. And part of what we're planning on doing is going around to some other cities. There's a Michigan project that we've heard about, there are some folks in Durham and Charlotte locally working on it and talking about it and finding systems that work. And what you find is, by and large, if you just set up an emergency assistance program, just "hey tenants, if you're behind on your rent come see us and we'll help you get caught up." Does that work? Or does it delay the inevitable?
I think people [that are going through this] need social support. So, a one-time cash payment to a landlord, that might help you get through one month. But what's going to make you be able to be stable for a long term? Six months down the line – if we were to look at look at helping someone – what difference does it make to them six months down the line? Not tomorrow or the next day. Those are those are the important questions that we need to be asking are starting to ask.
(Ed.: This post has been updated to include interview highlights. The transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.)