Local advocacy groups concerned for end of federal moratorium on eviction

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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – The Center for Disease Control’s fourth and final extension on the federal moratorium on eviction is coming to an end this week. Now local advocacy groups like United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley and Access 2 Independence are concerned about what this could mean for those struggling to make ends meet.

211 Coordinator Candace Muncy said groups across the board are concerned we’re going to see a major increase in evictions following the July 31 expiration date.

“There is absolutely concern,” said Muncy. “There is just this anxiety level across agencies that provide rental assistance just not knowing what the potential onslaught is going to be.”

According to the Muscogee County Sheriff’s office, who deals with the carrying out of scheduled evictions, Major Curtis Lockett said even with the federal moratorium, 710 evictions were carried out during the months of January through May and another 169 were completed in June. There is an additional 165 evictions that were canceled and another 38 that were put on hold in June.

It’s important to note these evictions were of people who did not obtain a declaration from the CDC stating they fell under the moratorium which would have prevented them from being evicted.

With the end of the moratorium rapidly approaching local groups are encouraging residence in need to look at options for rent assistance now. However, it’s not always as easy as just applying.

Access 2 Independence Peer Supporter Rico Morrison explained some of the struggles residents face after filing for these funds.

“We’re partners with the Department of Community Affairs which allows us to help those tenants to become ya know help them with their rent and catch up on utilities,” said Morrison. “However, it’s a two way street. So in order for the landlords to obtain their funding for the money that the tenant owes, they must participate in the program as well.”

Obtaining these funds and the potential for a surge of evictions isn’t the only concern local groups have ahead of the July 31 deadline. Muncy shared the amount of funding these families need is different than what we’ve seen in the past due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With ya know, evictions that are coming up people that ya know just aren’t needing a month or two months of rental assistance,” said Muncy. “We’re looking at people who need a year or more of rental assistance.”

Muncy said since the pandemic calls to 211 inquiring about rent assistance, utility assistance and more have increased.

“Directly related to COVID over the past year, year and a half we’ve had almost 1,300 people needing rent assistance, utility assistance even more, food even more than that,” said Muncy.

While Muncy and Morrison are encouraging those at risk of being evicted to ask for help and resources now to obtain funding for things like rent, Morrison is also asking tenants to be patient and remember the families, elderly people and children the end of the moratorium will impact.

“The DCA reassuring the landlords they do have the funding to provide for those tenants who are in need of help and they want the landlords to be calm and just give them time they’re trying to hurry up as best as they can,” said Morrison.

If you’re in need of funding here is a list of groups and sites that can help point you in the right direction:

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