RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – One of the first things President-elect Joe Biden wants to do as part of his coronavirus relief plan is to ban evictions through September. If it doesn’t happen soon, Crystal Carter could be days away from being homeless.
Her priority is keeping her 15-month-old twins Jasmine and Lily comfortable. They both have special needs.
Carter is on a fixed income and the children’s father took a paycut because of the pandemic.
“I’m thinking I’m a failure as a mom,” said Carter.
The family owes just over $2,000 in back rent and is preparing for possible eviction.
“The lady I deal with, she’s very nice but at the end of the day, it’s a business and there’s not much they can do,” said Carter.
She says rental assistance programs have fallen through. Some have told her they are out of funds while others require her to cover a larger portion of the rent than she can afford.
Carter has now turned to an online fundraiser to keep a roof over her children’s head by covering the rent she’d behind on.
“I’ve always have found a way myself but I also realize when I’m losing the battle. At the end of the day, it’s not about me and pride. I have to suck it up because it’s about two little ones who can’t fend for themselves,” Carter said.
Carter is asking for help via GoFundMe, Paypal, or Cashapp($TwinMommy86). Carter said people can donate directly to her rental company, Bissette Reality in Wilson, if they felt more comfortable doing that. She’s hoping for any kind of help to keep her head above water.
Supervising attorney at the Duke Civil Justice Clinic Jesse McCoy said there is a legal process to follow so that buys families like Carter’s some time.
“There are landlords who take advantage of people not understanding that this is a process and who will change locks, who will put people’s stuff out and their acting in a manner that is illegal,” said McCoy.
He understands landlords are in a tough spot, too.
“They’re saying, I can get foreclosed on. I can get put on a financial bind,” McCoy explained.
McCoy said evictions could send people into shelters or into the homes of family and friends, potentially increasing COVID-19 spread. That’s what the moratorium was aimed at preventing. Filings could even overwhelm courtrooms if a large number of landlords begin the eviction process.
“We have to have some kind of comprehensive plan to keep people at least comfortable where they are,” McCoy said.
Unless the state or CDC extends the eviction moratorium again, families hold on to hope.
“I’m wanting stability for my children,” Carter said.
Under the moratorium, the following points need to be true for your household:
- You have used your best efforts to get all government housing and rental payments that are available;
- You earned no more than $99,000 during 2020 (or not more than $198,000 if you are filing a joint tax return), OR you were not required to report any income in 2019 to the federal IRS, OR you received a CARES Act stimulus check;
- You were unable to pay full rent due to substantial loss of household income, loss of hours at work, lay-off, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;
- You are using your best efforts to make timely partial payments as close to the full amount due, as much as your personal circumstances allow, taking into consideration your other nondiscretionary expenses; AND
- If you are evicted, you would likely become homeless, need to move into a homeless shelter, or need to move into a residence shared with other people who live in close quarters because I have no other available housing options.
Click here for the next steps to take if you believe you qualify.
Click here for frequently asked questions about the process and eligibility
People seeking legal help with evictions are encouraged to call Legal Aid of North Carolina at 1-866-219-5262. You can also visit their website.
While the state and federal agencies have rental assistance programs, many individual counties have money set aside as well. Call 2-1-1 to get help finding resources in your community.
For the Wake County eviction protection program, click here.
For housing resources in Durham County, click here.