DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — Even as COVID-19 numbers go down, another concern is rising: evictions.
Due to the pandemic, many people have lost their jobs, had their hours cut, and are now facing potential homelessness. Meanwhile, landlords are struggling to make their own ends meet. With that in mind, several agencies, including federal and state, are trying to help.
In January 2021, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) extended an act that would prevent, subject to certain limitations, a landlord from evicting a covered person.
“The Centers for Disease Control is the federal agency that issued the original moratorium and is extending it,” Alabama Legal Services Staff Attorney Mary Jane Oakley said.
That moratorium was expected to end January 31st. Now, it’s been extended to March 31st. In addition to that moratorium, Emergency Rental Assistance Alabama is offering money to help tenants avoid being evicted. However, there are qualifications residents have to meet in order to be eligible.
“First, the landlord is supposed to send a written notice,” Oakley said. “The tenant can prepare the affidavit, but it does need to be related to COVID. It’s a sworn statement so they want to be careful that they’re accurate and honest. They can give that to the landlord or, if the case is already in court, then they can file it with the court.”
Tenants aren’t the only ones who can benefit from the upcoming program, landlords can also get help.
“It’s just a matter of if we can get the court system and the landlord community to cut us a break because this way they may get paid,” Oakley explained. “Landlords might get paid where they aren’t [wouldn’t] necessarily if they’re evicting and getting judgements against poor people.”
As all of this goes on, some people are asking why now? Why are the funds now being issued?
“They’re looking at it as a public health issue,” Oakley told WHDN. “If you increase the homeless population, you’re going to probably increase the spread of COVID and the likelihood that it’s going to be a serious case of COVID.”
For more information on the original moratorium and Emergency Rental Assistance Alabama visit its website.