The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's eviction moratorium has been in place since September of last year and is set to expire at the end of this month. Tenant and advocate concerns are on the rise as there are warning signs that a housing crisis is on the horizon.
According to the latest data, nearly 22,000 households in the Triad are behind on rent — topping $56 million in debt owed in the region.
The state moratorium on evictions was not extended for the month of July. This means landlords aren't required to make tenants aware of their protections under the CDC or provide them with the necessary paperwork.
Isaac Sturgill is the head of Legal Aid of North Carolina's housing practice group. He says he's seeing signs that an eviction crisis is on the way.
“We're already seeing the warning signals,” says Sturgill. “I mean, the Sheriff's Association has already sent out an email to the sheriffs across the state warning them to be on their toes cause there's going to be a huge spike in lockouts in August. There's different government organizations right now that are already firing off the warning shots and just letting everybody know the wave is coming.”
This wave of evictions could fall particularly hard on Black, Latinx, and other historically marginalized populations. The pandemic has destabilized housing in communities of color that have already been historically impacted by evictions.
“There are certain groups that are disproportionately affected by evictions. I think that the numbers are much higher now, and we're going to see the effect of that more visibly when the moratorium ends 'cause there's going to be a much higher rate of evictions,” Sturgill says.
Programs like the Emergency Rental Assistance Program are available for residents to get financial assistance, but getting those funds can take some time, and some landlords are refusing to accept the money.
“One of the reasons why is there can be strings attached to it,” says Sturgill. “They want the landlord to promise, 'We're not going to evict the tenant for 60 days, 90 days, some period of time.' And some landlords are so fed up at this point they're not willing to do that.”
Across North Carolina, 206,000 households are behind on rent, representing a debt of over $570 million.