Housing advocates will rally in front of the Forsyth County Government Center today to demand a halt to evictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Landlords who don’t have federally-backed mortgages or whose tenants don’t use federally-backed vouchers are now pursuing evictions in the court system, according to Dan Rose of Housing Justice Now.
Rose said Gov. Roy Cooper’s moratorium on evictions was lifted on June 20, and based on the Housing Justice Now’s numbers, at least 40 eviction cases have been heard in Forsyth County’s small claims court since June 22. Another 86 cases are scheduled to be heard between today and Thursday.
A rally will be held at 9 a.m. today at the Forsyth County Government Center, according to a news release from Housing Justice Now. The group will be joined by members of Black Lives Matter Winston-Salem, Siembra NC, Winston-Salem Democratic Socialists of America, Triad Area Green Party, Drum Majors Alliance, the Unity Coalition and Winston for Peace.
“Evictions are evidence of our systems of racial and economic inequality doing harm to the most vulnerable among us,” the news release said. “People who get evicted struggle to find new housing. They face higher rates of homelessness, job loss, disease, domestic violence, suicide, and depression.”
Some evictions are halted until July 27 under the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that President Donald Trump signed into law in March. The federal law covers properties owned by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development, such as Crystal Towers here in Winston-Salem. The law also covers any property covered by federally-backed mortgages or property that receives federal low-income tax credits. And the law covers any property in which residents receive federal vouchers to offset the cost of rent.
But everyone else not covered under the federal law now faces the possibility of eviction, Rose said. Some of those evictions were filed before North Carolina implemented measures to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, Rose said.
Some of the cases being heard for the first time in Small Claims Court, meaning that either the case will likely be continued or that tenants have a right to appeal if the court rules against them.
Christina Howell, a spokeswoman for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, said sheriff’s deputies have served 41 process papers related to evictions.
“We are currently serving summons to court about failure to pay,” she said.
Howell said the sheriff’s office does not make any determinations or decisions about evictions and simply serves court-ordered paperwork.
Rose said Housing Justice Now is not only demanding a halt to evictions but also more funding from Winston-Salem and Forsyth County to provide more affordable housing.