NC NAACP president calls on Gov. Cooper to renew emergency moratorium on evictions, utility shutoffs

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, president of the North Carolina state conference of the NAACP, is calling on Gov. Roy Cooper to renew two of his Executive Orders meant to assist those struggling to pay rent and utility bills.

Spearman, in a letter to the governor, said the state has an urgent need for renewal of Executive Orders 124 and 142.

Executive Order 124, which was put in place in March, prohibited utilities – including electric, gas, water and wastewater services – from disconnecting customers unable to pay during the COVID-19 pandemic and from collecting fees, penalties or interest for late payments. The order expired back in May.

Executive Order 142, announced on May 30, assisted North Carolinians by placing temporary prohibitions on evictions and extended the prohibitions on utility shut-offs.

“The economic distress and dislocation caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is causing hardship for far too many of our brothers and sisters across the state,” Spearman said. “Recently negotiated federal aid is insufficient and is coming too late to meet the needs of those struggling to keep a roof over their head and their homes warm for winter.”

Back in July, Cooper said that it’s not likely he’d extend that executive order. In October, the governor implemented a similar action with Executive Order 171, which required landlords to make residential tenants aware of their rights under a CDC Order, which temporarily halted residential evictions to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

For eviction actions commencing after Executive Order No. 171, landlords must give residents the option to fill out a declaration form before starting any eviction action. 

“As new daily infections are now in the thousands, maintaining access to housing and utilities for households in North Carolina remains critical. This is especially true given that people of color are being infected and dying at a higher rate, while at the same time facing disproportionate risk of eviction and loss of utility services,” Spearman wrote.

According to demographic analysis by The Eviction Lab, Black individuals made up 19.9 percent of all adult renters in the counties for which they had data, but 32.7 percent of all eviction filing defendants.

Black renters experienced the highest average rates of eviction filing (6.2 percent) and eviction judgement (3.4 percent). Nearly one in four Black renters lived in a county in which the Black eviction rate was more than double the white eviction rate, according to data.

“The time is now to issue a new Executive Order to protect our neighbors from eviction and utility disconnection. The NC NAACP joins with others in calling for a moratorium that stops all evictions,” Spearman said.

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