Charlotte region qualifies for new CDC eviction protection. Here are details.

Lauren Lindstrom, The Charlotte Observer

The new federal eviction moratorium, now in place until early October, means Charlotte and Mecklenburg tenants with a COVID-19 hardship will have another short reprieve from losing their homes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention late Tuesday announced a new order, halting evictions for tenants with pandemic-related hardships who live in areas of high COVID-19 transmission rates.

That includes Mecklenburg and other counties experiencing “high” or “substantial” spread of the virus, spurred by the more contagious delta variant. The public health order, citing the variant, aims to keep people in their homes to avoid overcrowding in shelters or other shared living situations that could increase infections.

While the geographic requirements of the new order make it more limited than the expired one, current case trends qualify much of the country, including 96 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Every county in the Charlotte metro area is considered to have high community transmission as of this week, qualifying its residents for the new moratorium.

Like the previous order, eligible tenants must sign a declaration affirming their inability to pay rent and attempts to secure financial assistance. Tenants who have already signed a declaration do not have to sign a new one. Tenants seeking new relief must submit that declaration to their landlord.

Tuesday’s announcement reversed course for the CDC and Biden administration, which had said the agency did not have the authority to extend the moratorium when it expired Saturday. Pressure from Democratic lawmakers and housing advocates mounted, but Congress failed to pass a bill that would extend the moratorium through December.

U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, who co-sponsored the House bill, praised the CDC’s decision.

“Extending the eviction moratorium will allow critical rental assistance funds to reach tenants and landlord alike,” she said in a statement. “When tenants utilize these federal programs, they also have a chance to pay back their landlords who are struggling to make ends meet and facing foreclosure on their properties.”

The rapid reinstatement of eviction protections has prompted lots of questions, said Isaac Sturgill, who leads Legal Aid of North Carolina’s housing group.

“We did have an uptick in calls and definitely a lot of clients concerned about it expiring,” he said.

“We have a lot of clients that are still waiting on approval for rental assistance, still out of work and waiting for other income to come in. There was a concern that people were going to fall through the cracks.”

RACE TO DISTRIBUTE RENT HELP

Housing advocates say the extra time is crucial to get billions of federal rent relief dollars out to tenants and landlords to settle overdue balances and prevent evictions.

The city of Charlotte has distributed about 53% of its latest round of federal relief funding as of June 30, according to data from the U.S. Treasury. As of last week, there was $7.8 million available for Charlotte renters with a pandemic income loss or illness.

Priority will be given to those with an eviction filed and a court hearing within 90 days, followed by those with the lowest incomes.

Applications are available at rampclt.com. Those who can’t apply online may call 980-406-7509.

Renters earning up to 80% of the area median income ($67,350 for a family of four) are eligible to apply.

Read more at The Charlotte Observer

This story was produced by the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative, a partnership of six media companies working together in an effort started by the Solutions Journalism Network and funded by The Knight Foundation.

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