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Worry over possible 'tsunami of evictions' in Michigan as nationwide eviction moratorium ends

eviction
Posted at 4:10 PM, Jul 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-30 16:10:33-04

(WSYM) — A nationwide ban on evictions expires at midnight on July 30.

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The CDC put the eviction moratorium in place in September, saying increasing homelessness could cost people their lives during a pandemic. The Supreme Court decided it could only continue through the end of July without legislative action.

Seven Action News asked the question on Facebook, “As a tenant, are you facing possible eviction?” The comments overwhelmingly were not sympathetic.

“They should have been paying this the entire time. End of Story,” said one comment.

“It’s time to leave squatters! Go get a job like the rest of us,” said another.

Tenants impacted say the stigma of being behind is painful and real. One agreed to tell her story on the phone to our sister station WXYZ, so long as we did not share her name.

One tenant's thoughts on facing challenges paying rent
One tenant's thoughts on facing challenges paying rent

“I had a significant other that, you know, he ended up passing away from COVID and that was my help,” she said.

She says she is grateful she is employed, but it has been challenging to transition to making ends meet alone.

“It has just left me with my single income,” she said.

She worries the end of the moratorium could lead to an eviction.

Her heartbreaking story just one of many in a state where approximately 20,000 people lost their lives to COVID-19.

Courtesy National Low Income Housing Coalition, 2021

So how many people could find themselves impacted by the end of the eviction moratorium? A Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey in March this year found that 12 percent of Michigan renters were behind on rent. That is about 210,000 people.

“We’re all very concerned about a tsunami of evictions,” said Joe McGuire, an attorney with the Detroit Justice Center who often represents people facing eviction.

 Joe McGuire, attorney with the Detroit Justice Center
Joe McGuire, attorney with the Detroit Justice Center

McGuire says we have gone through both a historic health and economic crisis at the same time and his clients are trying to make ends meet.

“We all have heard about the difficulties people have had accessing unemployment benefits. A lot of people still haven’t received unemployment benefits. A lot of people are having a hard time finding jobs in this economy that are good for them."

“The soonest a landlord or plaintiff can file or execute a writ of eviction pursuant to Michigan law is 10 days after the expiration of the moratorium,” said Judge Jennifer Andary, of Macomb County 42-1 District Court.

Judge Jennifer Andary says if you get an eviction hearing notice, don’t ignore it.

“Show up. Don’t put your head in the sand and pretend it isn’t going to happen,” she said.

Renter Relief Eligibility
Renter Relief Eligibility

Missing a hearing can actually expedite the eviction. She says at her court they are working to connect renters with legal representation and COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) available.

“I want people to know that there is still going to be help,” she said.

You can learn more about CERA funds here.

CERA FAQ by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd

President Joe Biden has called on Congress to extend the moratorium so people have more time to file for COVID Emergency Rental Assistance that has been sent out to states.

“These are the most vulnerable among us. I represent the third poorest congressional district in the country. And I know. I have spoken to people who are so incredibly afraid they will be out on the streets,” said U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan), on why she supports an extension of the moratorium.

“There are going to be a number of us pushing for this. I don’t make promises though when I don’t know what the timing is,” said U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan).

Rep. Debbie Dingell
Rep. Debbie Dingell

Rep. Dingell said her message is that if you are behind, apply for help now. Do not count on an extension, as it may or may not happen.

The landlord for the renter WXYZ spoke to on the phone says she sent multiple tenants information on how to apply to help her and her tenants out. Now they are just waiting for a response.