COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Relief for folks facing homelessness is underway in the Chattahoochee Valley as the eviction moratorium comes to an end.
The Salvation Army in Columbus has helped over 500 people keep a roof over their head and with the latest eviction moratorium coming to an end, their mission continues.
The Supreme Court struck down the most recent eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that was set to expire October 3, citing the agency does not have the authority to put the moratorium in place.
States and counties can issue their own ban on evictions, but that’s not the case in Muscogee County.
Captain Lauren Stinson with the Muscogee County Sherriff’s Office said evictions never stopped in Muscogee County during the COVID-19 pandemic, some were only halted with the recent moratorium issued by the CDC.
Stinson says with that coming to an end, the remaining evictions are set to resume in September. The process begins with rescheduling those placed on hold, and the actual eviction can take place about two weeks later.
The Social Service Director for the Salvation Army Sendena Stewart says the ending of the moratorium is already hitting close to home.
“We have had an influx of individuals seeking rental assistance due to the eviction moratorium,” said Stewart.
Once the moratorium ends, renters will have to pay up or could face eviction.
Salvation Army Corps Officer Captain Jason Smith says they’re doing everything they can to help those in need.
“The rental assistance program here is remarkable, as it keeps families intact, as it prevents folks from being out on the streets, and here at the start of the school year it is important for kids to have that stability in having a roof over their head,” said Smith.
Capt. Smith said it’s not just rent that can put someone on the streets, citing a number of other issues that can lead to eviction.
“Rental Assistance is a big a deal, but utilities, if you do not have utilities in your home, you’re up for eviction for that as well,” said Smith.
The Salvation Army takes a one-on-one approach to those in need and offers a wide range of assistance.
“The great thing about our program is that it’s one on one, it’s real one on one case management with a person that as a heart and really cares,” said Smith.
The rental assistance program begins with renters filling out an application in-person, Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. -1 p.m., at the offices on 2nd Avenue. Once the application is complete, the renter will then meet with a case worker to determine the financial assistance needed.
“Some of the services we provide, whether it be groceries assistant, utility assistant, by offsetting the cost associated with those particular items, the individual could then redirect those funds to their rent,” said Smith.
The Salvation Army’s rental assistance program is focused on those one to two months behind rent.
“We’re just that intervention. We want to make sure our families stay in place. That’s one thing we want. We want to avoid homelessness. That’s why I want to encourage individuals to come. Don’t want until the last minute to seek our services,” said Stewart.
The Salvation Army says those facing evictions shouldn’t wait, as the program takes about three weeks to complete.