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Housing attorneys in the mountains not seeing the surge of evictions they anticipated

<i>WLOS</i><br/>Housing attorneys in the mountains not seeing the surge of evictions they anticipated.
Housing attorneys in the mountains not seeing the surge of evictions they anticipated.

By Caitlyn Penter

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    BUNCOMBE COUNTY, N.C. (WLOS) — It’s been more than three weeks since the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the eviction moratorium extension.

Attorneys with Pisgah Legal Services, a local nonprofit organization, said Western North Carolina is back to pre-pandemic eviction numbers, but they said so far it has not been the flood of evictions they expected by this point.

There have been 51 eviction filings since Aug. 27 according to the Buncombe County small claims court.

“The docket this week in Buncombe County is pretty close to what a docket would look like in September of 2019,” said David Bartholomew, Pisgah Legal housing attorney.

Bartholomew said they’re still cautious about what could come.

“We’re really fearful of a huge amount of evictions just because the moratorium reduced the amounts by so much,” he said.

People like David Jett continue to struggle from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“Right now I’m kind of work for trade for places to sleep,” said Jett.

Jett has struggled to find permanent housing since losing out on work when COVID hit.

“People are saying, ‘well oh there’s work all over the place.’ Yeah, but people don’t want to pay you and even if they will pay you, you can’t find a place in Asheville,” he said.

Housing officials continue to push people to access the millions of dollars that are still available in rental assistance funds.

Buncombe County currently has $2.3 million left in its emergency rental assistance, or ERA, round one funds. It has all $5.2 million worth of ERA round two funds.

The county has until September of next year to spend round one funds and until September of 2025 to spend round two funds.

On the state level, there is $70 million left of round one NC Hope funds and an anticipated $400 million left of the upcoming round two funding.

“We are seeing folks coming to us through legal aid and through eviction proceedings because those have now started up,” said Laura Hogshead, the North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency (NCORR) chief operating officer and the leader of HOPE.

On Tuesday, officials with the Department of Social Services, Pisgah Legal housing attorneys, court officials, and landlord attorneys will meet privately to plan how best to distribute assistance funds.

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