CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The eviction moratorium that has allowed those struggling financially to keep their homes expires on Saturday. According to the Eviction Lab, South Carolina currently has the second-highest percentage of people behind on rent.
The general hope from Lowcountry organizations and state legislators is that the federal government steps in to extend the moratorium.
Otha Meadows, the President of Charleston Trident Urban League says the eviction crisis that is building now is, “something that is going to impact us all”.
An estimated $60 million remains past due for rent across the Tri-county and in Charleston county, 18% of tenants are behind on rent.
Meadow says an extension would give both agencies working to help and those impacted more time as funds remain available, but “the issue at this point is really having enough time to really get them out”. Those funds, coming from the American Rescue Plan along with a second fund that Meadow says assists both in the short and long term.
Representative Wendell Gilliard says he agrees that an extension is needed as the pandemic continues. He says on Friday, he sent out a “911” to those in congress pleading to extend the moratorium for those in South Carolina.
The advocacy and notifying the public that money has not run out is simply part of the fight. Meadows says in the case they do not get an extension, he believes all should know the proper procedure of evictions.
He says most of the confusion he’s heard from tenants about the process is that it begins with an order through the magistrate court and not a landlord.
The court will then send a notice to the resident, notifying them that an eviction notice against them. They have 10 days to contact the courts and ask for a hearing to go to court and explain their situation.Otha Meadows, President of Charleston Trident Urban League
Through that court hearing, individuals can be matched with pro-bono attorneys who can assist in more involved situations as well working one on one with the landlords.
Meadows says he believes assistance in the evictions crisis goes beyond just the renters but also impacts the landlords as they too have bills that get behind when tenants are unable to pay.
Representative Gilliard says he’s been advised that if the federal government does not extend the moratorium, they plan to hand the issue over to the CDC.
For Emergency Rental Assistance in Charleston County, click here.
For more on the Charleston Trident Urban League’s rental assistance program, click here.