New hotline aims to help those at risk for eviction
Posted June 22, 2020 8:32 p.m. EDT
Chapel Hill, N.C. — North Carolina’s statewide ban on evictions were lifted Sunday.
This means many people who have struggled to pay their rent during the COVID-19 pandemic could start the battle to keep their homes.
“Even though landlords were not technically supposed to be going forward with evictions up until now, some of them have, said UNC associate professor of law Kathryn Sabbeth.
Sabbeth believes landlord misconduct and illegal evictions have several tenants frightened and that most people are unaware that the C.A.R.E.S. Act still protects some rental properties until July 25. “Landlords are locking up the homes before going through the court process," she said. "Maybe the landlord is shutting off utilities or doing other things to get the tenant out of the home.”
So how do you know if your dwelling qualifies under C.A.R.E.S., and how do you provide or demand that information in a court hearing? These questions are what inspired the launch of the new defense hotline, and legal aid workers at UNC’s civil legal assistance clinics are receiving an influx of calls.
“Evictions especially in the immigrant of LatinX community who might not qualify for other federal aid are at a great public health risk at the moment," said Siembra research fellow Andreina Malk.
Those battling possible homelessness can now text or call the hotline at 919-590-9165 to receive free legal assistance. They will also receive an information packet. The goal is to help people better advocate for themselves in court.
"If a person gets a Section 8 voucher, they know whether they get that voucher, but if their landlord’s property is covered by a federally backed mortgage, that’s not something we can expect a tenant to know,” Sabbeth said.
During this pandemic, they're hoping landlords and tenants can work things out on their own with payment plans. However, if needed, the C.A.R.E.S. Act Eviction Information Line is also working help those in need of in-court representation.