DURHAM, NC (WNCN) — Evictions have picked up again since the COVID-19 moratorium on evictions ended a year ago.
Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead hosted a call Tuesday to help people learn more about the eviction process and the help that is out there.
“Durham is a resource-rich community, but it has been difficult to bring together the people who need those resources,” Birkhead said.
During part of the pandemic, landlords weren’t 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 July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022. The department served 2,369 evictions.
Two months ago, Gary Chavis, a legal aid attorney for the North Carolina Eviction Diversion Program, began working directly from the courthouse. He said it was an attempt to give people facing eviction easier access to legal services.
“Community demand for our services has been growing steadily, but over the past few months, I think landlords’ patience has waned,” Chavis said.
He also said inflation and economic factors are accelerating the evictions.
According to a spokesman for the North Carolina Department of Justice, more than 10,466 eviction cases are pending in courts nationwide. The average age of pending cases is 19 days.
Crystal Robinson is at risk of eviction and has lived in Durham most of her life.
“It’s actually heartbreaking, especially after COVID because you know I’ve been unemployed for a while because of COVID, which is one of the reasons I’ve defaulted on the rent,” she said.
Robinson said she is returning to court for the third time after saying her case was involuntarily dismissed the other two times due to landlord errors.
She said it was frustrating to apply for support that had expired. Though she said the process wasn’t easy, she hopes it will work out.
“Now I have enough work, and it has been very difficult to save up money to do what I need to do to save my home,” she said. Having to pull my kids out of college and just trying to make ends meet as a single mom was very difficult.”
Durham is not alone, the 1,552 evictions completed in Cumberland County so far this year are already close to the numbers for all of 2020 and 2021. The department conducted 1,518 evictions in 2021 and 1,762 evictions in 2020 through. The number was higher before the pandemic The department imposed 3,160 evictions in 2019.
Chavis said the first thing anyone should do when evicted is gather important documents like your lease. He said if your lease is uploaded to an online portal, you could be banned from that portal if you are behind on the rent.
The Durham County Sheriff’s Office listed the following resources for people facing eviction or having trouble paying their rent:
https://www.cbs17.com/news/local-news/durham-county-news/what-to-know-when-facing-an-eviction-in-nc/ What you should know if you’re faced with an eviction in NC