DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN)–Evictions are picking up again since the COVID-19 eviction moratorium ended one year ago.
Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead hosted a conversation Tuesday to help people learn about the eviction process and the help that is out there.
“Durham is a rich resource filled community, but connecting those individuals who need these resources has been difficult,” Birkhead said.
For part of the pandemic, landlords were not allowed to evict anyone, that changed last August.
The Durham County Sheriff’s Office said it served 1,539 evictions in fiscal year 2022, which runs from July 1, 2021- June 30, 2022. An increase from 973 in FY 2021, which included the moratorium, but not as many as FY 2020 when the department served 2, 369 evictions.
Two months ago, Gary Chavis, a Legal Aid of North Carolina Eviction Diversion Program Staff Attorney, began working directly out of the courthouse. He said it’s an effort to make it easier for people facing eviction to access legal services.
“The demand kind of from the community for our services has been steadily growing, but in the last few months especially as I think the patience of the landlords has waned,” Chavis said.
He also said inflation and economic factors accelerating evictions.
According to a spokesperson for North Carolina Judicial Branch, there are more than 10,466 eviction cases pending in courts statewide. The median age of the pending cases is 19 days.
Crystal Robinson is facing eviction, she’s called Durham home almost her whole life.
“It’s heartbreaking actually, especially after COVID because you know I was out of work for awhile because of COVID, which is one of the reasons I fell behind on rent,” she said.
Robinson said she’s heading back to court for the third time after she said her case was involuntarily dismissed the other two times due to mistakes the landlord made.
She said it’s been frustrating to apply for assistance that has run out. While she said the process has not been easy, she’s hopeful it will work out.
“Now I do have adequate work, and trying to save up money to do what I need to do to save my home, it’s been very difficult,” she said. Having to take my children out of college and just trying to make ends meet as a single mom it’s been very difficult.”
Durham’s not alone, the 1,552 evictions served in Cumberland County so far this year is already close to the numbers for all of 2020 and for 2021. The department served 1,518 evictions in 2021 and 1,762 evictions in 2020. The number was higher pre-pandemic when the department served 3,160 evictions in 2019.
Chavis said the first thing someone should do if they’re being evicted is gather important documents like your lease. He said if your lease is uploaded in an online portal you might be locked out of that portal if you’re behind on rent.
The Durham County Sheriff’s Office listed the following resources for people facing eviction or who have trouble paying rent:
- The United Way
- Rebuild NC funds through the North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency- 833-ASK-RBNC
- Eviction Diversion Program- 919-560-800
- Legal Aid NC- 1-866-219-LANC, DurhamHousingTeam@LegalAidNC.org, or by visiting the Courthouse 3rd floor, Room 3200 Mon-Fri 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
- Duke Civil Law Clinic
- NCCU Civil Clinic