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Charlotte Area News

Governor Says He'll Extend NC Evictions Moratorium To Jan. 31

Tenant activists protested at Nichole Cureton's home
Tenant Organizing Resource Center
Activists from the Tenant Organizing Resource Center protested evictions at a Charlotte rental home in September.

With a state ban on evictions running out Dec. 31, Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday that he plans to extend the moratorium by a month.

The hold on evictions now will run through Jan. 31, Cooper said in a press release. It applies to people struggling to pay the rent because they lost jobs or income due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This holiday season, too many families are struggling to pay rent as the pandemic surges,” Cooper said in a statement. “As the first of the month approaches and rent becomes due, I wanted people to know that we plan to extend the moratorium on evictions.”

Details haven't been released, but Cooper says it will be based on how or whether Congress extends a federal eviction moratorium.

A stimulus bill that passed Congress this week includes $25 billion for rental assistance and extends the federal eviction ban through Jan. 31. The moves would help not only tenants but also landlords suffering from lost income.

The federal bill is awaiting President Donald Trump's signature. Trump has threatened not to sign it, saying he's unhappy with the size of stimulus checks promised.

Housing and racial justice groups had called on Cooper to also revive a ban on utility shutoffs that expired July 29.

The groups sent a letter to Cooper on Wednesday outlining the severity of the crisis and noting that evictions and utility shutoffs often disproportionately affect people of color. It reads, in part:

"Yesterday’s agreement on additional Federal COVID rental and utility relief funding will not bring assistance fast enough for struggling North Carolinians, and will only delay the risk of eviction and utility shutoffs for another month or two. More protections are needed while funds are disbursed and for those for whom funding may not ultimately be available."

See the full letter below.

Lawsuit Over Evictions Dropped

Meanwhile, Legal Aid of North Carolina has dropped a lawsuit alleging that some North Carolina courts were ignoring state and national bans on evictions.

Legal Aid had filed suit last month on behalf of a Durham woman and the tenant advocacy group Action NC. The suit said evictions were still happening despite state and federal orders.

But a Legal Aid spokesman said Wednesday they ended the suit after court clerks in Durham, Wake, Mecklenburg and Robeson counties adopted policies to comply with requirements of the state and federal eviction bans.

In particular, the clerks say they won't issue eviction orders if tenants have filed statements saying they're having trouble paying rent because of the pandemic. That's a requirement of the eviction ban issued in September by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"That was the policy we were asking for," Isaac Sturgill of Legal Aid of North Carolina said in an email.

Once clerks issued those policies, "We no longer had a client in the case facing any harm, and so we dismissed without prejudice," he said.

Letter to Gov. Cooper