Eviction Moratorium Series: The Warning Signs 

We’ve been saying it for a while…a storm is coming.

“But how so?” you ask. “Isn’t the pandemic almost in the rear-view mirror now?”

Logic (and our longings for normalcy) would certainly support this view. But when you start looking harder at data, trends, and observations, you begin to see a different picture.

Back in March 2020, we all felt the huge tension between the need to be safe and the excruciating reality that inequalities in our country would mean that some of our neighbors would suffer more than they had to. Our entire community rallied with donations, much-needed supplies, and contactless volunteer support.

But the surge in “need” we expected never came. There was an increase in requests for shelter opportunities for the well-publicized resource of the Marriott hotel in RTP—particularly among the unsheltered. But it was not the surge. In the race to adjust services and keep everyone safe, it took a while to notice. We saw it first in our reports from the Community Café. How could it be that the numbers of meals served were down significantly? We knew we had reduced bed space for social distancing, but shouldn’t there be more people lined up for to-go meals if they were struggling financially?

It was extremely puzzling. But we noticed that the community was doing a LOT to help make life easier for their neighbors. Congregations were opening their own food pantries, and some groups were delivering groceries directly to neighborhoods. And most importantly, schools were feeding not only students who were learning remotely, but they were often providing groceries for the entire family. The need was there, but the need was being met for the most part. As people go back to pre-pandemic routines, some of that support is beginning to recede.

The next sign related to a delay in the surge? Fewer affordable housing options for client placement during the eviction moratorium period. Because Durham’s affordable housing options are so limited, many “new start” opportunities for a UMD client arise—unfortunately—when someone else is evicted or has to vacate a property. While evictions did not completely stop, the eviction moratorium was working. Households had some stability.

The good news: All of our combined efforts as a community, and with public policy, seem to have worked. The bad news: Durham has a typical eviction filing rate of 900-1,000 per month. While not all of those filings end in eviction, a backlog of 15+ months of households will suddenly become eligible for eviction—not in a cyclical wave—but in a compounded tsunami wave. And it will happen when many of us are not looking—while we are going back to “normal.”

The pandemic surge we expected in early Spring 2020 will hit in Summer 2021, and likely just in time for school to start back.

Operation Housing Our Neighbors

The focus of our mission to offer food, shelter, and a future to neighbors in need is always the heart of what we do, but “how” we do that work is just as important. That’s why collaboration is one of our core values. We choose to do this work “with” the community. The current challenge we face and the opportunities it presents is no different.

The Challenge:

The contract for housing the homeless at the RTP Marriott in Durham ends on July 9th. Individual hotel rooms helped keep homeless neighbors COVID-free, but now that it is time to return to UMD, we need to find immediate housing arrangements for 50-60 people. For public health safety, we must cut our 149 person bed list in half. With unemployment at an all-time-high and rising, and evictions looming, more individuals and families will need UMD’s services.

The Opportunities:

To have the greatest impact during our community’s time of need, we need your help to identify and provide housing assistance so that UMD can meet demand while keeping everyone as safe as possible.

This is a tall order. The good news is there are a number of pathways for you to help. We recognize that everyone has been impacted by COVID-19 and it could make you feel like you don’t have much to give. But fear not! If we work together with whatever resources we can bring to the table, we can rise to this challenge! Your role is important! And your contributions are crucial investments in our shared humanity and our shared community by keeping people off the streets during a pandemic and bringing economic stability to our city.

Pick a Pathway:

The Details:


Items can be new or gently used. Sizes: Twin and Full. Drop off at the lobby of 410 Liberty Street under the purple awning (M-F, 10am-4pm).

These items are also listed on our Amazon Wishlist for quick order and delivery.

For questions about donations, contact Viki Baker at (919) 682-0538 ext. 125 or [email protected].

Supply Shelter:

If you are interested in providing shelter, please contact our Clinical Director, Valerie Haywood by calling or texting her at 919-459-7220 (preferred) or send her an email at [email protected].

We are open to discussing a variety of options with you to best fit what you are able to offer and our clients’ needs. However, we are hoping to provide short-term 6-12 months emergency housing opportunities or leases, with hopes that some leases could result in permanent housing.

If you hope to provide a rental opportunity, the majority of our clients will need rental units around $600 or less per person. Our case managers can help identify rent arrangements that succeed for both you and the client.

Raise Revenue for ROOF:

Make a gift online and put “ROOF” in the dedication or send a check to UMD at P.O. Box 249, Durham, NC 27702 with memo line “ROOF.”

You can also think creatively on how to work with friends, family and your fellowship groups to raise money as a team social-distance style.

For questions about donations, contact Joe Daly at (919) 682-0538 ext. 135 or send an email to [email protected].

Does one of these opportunities strike a chord with you? That’s great! Remember, you are a very important part of the team here at UMD. Let’s do this!