So, the clock is ticking. Where do people go if they are evicted due to the lifting of the moratorium?
Some households will do the best they can to gain new housing, but it won’t be easy. The housing and real estate market is highly competitive right now. Terms like “scorching” and “overheated” are frequently used to describe it, and renters are suffering greatly. At one point during the pandemic, it was reported to UMD that rent had increased in Durham by 34%. Now, the anticipated influx of workers for big companies like Google and Apple is further exacerbating matters. Affordable housing was already incredibly tight in Durham, so it is possible that some may not have another place to go. Perhaps they will join another household temporarily, but even this—couch surfing—is a form of homelessness.
The other option is to go through the homeless service provider network here in Durham. Those whose homelessness is hardest to solve quickly will wind up in an emergency shelter. It’s likely that many people will be experiencing homelessness for the first time.
According to the CDC, their extension of the eviction moratorium through July was primarily aimed at preventing an influx of people into homeless shelters, which are still under restrictions because they are congregate living facilities. In the case of Urban Ministries of Durham, we have maintained our safety protocols to prevent the spread of Covid-19 by operating at reduced capacity and utilizing a motel for the medically vulnerable. Our main location is down to 83 beds from a pre-pandemic total of 149. UMD will still be operating under these conditions when the moratorium lifts, and we will lack additional space to meet high demand.
Our best response will be to prepare clients as quickly as possible to move out of the shelter and into permanent housing, therefore freeing up space for others in need. However, if the affordable housing market remains tight—and it appears it will—clients will have to stay longer at UMD than necessary.
Check out previous entries in the series on the eviction moratorium:
Post 1: The Warning Signs
Post 2: How Bad Could It Be?