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Rental assistance still available as federal eviction moratorium ends this week

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 7:17 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The federal eviction moratorium ends this weekend, but organizations are working to still help tenants and landlords as the deadline approaches.

The moratorium was set to expire on June 30 but was extended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The eviction moratorium and the mortgage foreclosure moratorium will both end on July 31.

The City of Charlotte is working with different organizations to help struggling renters and landlords.

According to city officials, throughout the pandemic (2020 & 2021), the City has provided $33.7M in rent, mortgage and utility assistance to support 11,428 families.

Traci Canterbury Jones is the general manager here at the Southern Comfort Inn. The Inn was doomed to close in May after a significant financial loss.

Canterbury Jones says some of her tenants make an effort to pay but there are others taking advantage of federal assistance.

“We mostly rent to people that are on low and fixed incomes so their income didn’t stop. Because of the eviction moratorium they “heard” the Governor say that they didn’t have to pay for their room and we couldn’t put them out so that was the big bump and road for us.”

Canterbury Jones also says some tenants owe thousands of dollars and some have even damaged their rooms, and now she’s left to pay for repairs.

Canterbury Jones acknowledges the eviction moratorium is ending but says it could put a blemish on some people’s records who are genuinely struggling.

“The last thing we want to do is put people on the street,” Canterbury Jones said. “We have a lot of families that stay here, a lot of children, so then it’s like doing the evictions we don’t want to put another scar on their record. Most of the people here have already hit rock bottom, they already have multiple evictions, their credit is ruined.”

At one point the motel had $160,000 past due but thanks to DreamKey Partners they got help with utilities and other fees.

DreamKey Partners works with the city of Charlotte to help tenants and landlords with rent, utility payments, and mortgagee relief.

“What’s great about the funds is we can go back to March 20, 2020, and we can help have assistance forward for three months,” said Erin Barbee with DreamKey Partners.

Barbee says applications are accepted between the 1 and 15 of every month. The city’s emergency housing assistance program RAMP CLT is an extension of DreamKey Partners.

Barbee says even though the moratorium is ending people can still apply for help with funding plus mediation services.

“We recognize that there might be times that the landlord and the tenant might not see eye to eye and mediation may be the way to go avoid eviction. All of those resources will be available and we encourage people to use them,” Barbee said.

Legal Aid is also providing assistance to tenants by providing free legal representation.

Services are free for those who qualify. In many cases, they are able to negotiate settlements with landlords and assert legal defenses for tenants in eviction court.

In addition, they are educating tenants on their rights.

“Tenants are entitled to a trial and will have an opportunity to present any legal defenses they may have if they choose to go to court. There is also an appeal process if the tenant loses the trial. Tenants with questions about whether they have any legal defenses or whether they should go to court may want to contact Legal Aid for guidance,” said Isaac Sturgill with Legal Aid of North Carolina.

Tenants who are interested in applying may visit legalaidnc.org or call the toll-free hotline at 1-866 219-5262.

Crisis Assistance Ministry is also providing housing navigators to communicate rental assistance to people in need.

Canterbury Jones says there are some silver linings for landlords with the moratorium ending - she says more rooms can be rented and they can evict tenants who aren’t paying. Even with this, Canterbury Jones says she still has added expenses for repairs.

“You’re looking at having to spend a ton of money to try to remodel, revamp everything that’s been destroyed for the last year so as far as how it’s going to help us I don’t really know. To be honest with you it’s going to take us several years to actually recover,” Canterbury Jones said.

The city of Charlotte also has a dispute settlement program that offers free mediation services.

You can call the Landlord-Tenant Line at (704) 336-5330 or click here for more information.

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