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Charlotte housing taskforce worries about evictions post-crisis

The taskforce says they plan to meet on a weekly basis to come up with an action plan as quickly as possible.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The city of Charlotte has created a recovery task force to deal with housing challenges the city is currently facing and is sure to face in the future as the coronavirus crisis shifts into recovery mode.

“Our goal is to anticipate and plan for charlotte’s post-recovery challenges,” said councilman Malcolm Graham, the taskforce’s coordinator.

They compiled a list of what’s top of mind for community members right now, including rent, mortgage, utilities payment, in foreclosures and evictions, tenant's rights, homelessness, and a second wave of the coronavirus this winter.

One of the more immediate challenges will be on the issue of rent and mortgage payments.

“We don’t know what May is going to hold,” said Lee Cochran, a sector leader for the housing subcommittee. “It could be that April people covered, and then May is going to be the problem month.

Cochran says they need to find a way to keep people in their existing homes.

“I think we want to keep people current,” Cochran said. “Forbearance is helpful in the sense that yes, someone cant be evicted, but if they’re running behind on their rent, that’s just kicking the can down the road.

Several members noted that evictions could be just around the corner.

We are certainly glad that there are not any evictions taking place, but we also know at some point that the court system is going to reopen,” said Larken Egleston. “What kind of a wave of eviction hearings could we be facing when that flood gate reopens?”

Councilmember Renee Johnson requested if they could get information on whether evictions have been filed.

“Evictions, according to the information that I have from the courts, they are being filed now,” Johnson said. “I think we need clarification on that. We know that judgments aren’t being issued because they’re not being processed, but according to my understanding, they are allowed to be filed right now. If they are being filed, we know that they’re on an individual’s permanent record.”

To help combat this, the city council plans to allocate part of the $3.5 million dollar grant they received from the federal government to low to moderate-income homeowners.

“We’ll be using it for rent relief, we’ll be using it for utility relief, and then some security deposits,” said Pamela Wideman, the director of city’s housing and neighborhood services department.

The committee also brought up the need for relief for rental owners.

“[It’s] really almost a slap in the face to not have any provision in the CARES act for them to get funding because they too have mortgages that they have to pay,” said Greater Apartment Association Executive Director Kim Graham. “We do have to figure out how to get money in the hands of the owners.”

The taskforce says they plan to meet on a weekly basis to come up with an action plan as quickly as possible.


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