GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – According to housing experts, evictions are on the rise in South Carolina, and there may be a wave of them coming soon.
Eviction moratoriums at the state and federal level have kept a lot of people in their homes since the start of the pandemic. An order from the Centers for Disease offers a pause on evictions through the end of the year.
A report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition in early August found more than 200,000 households across the South Carolina were at risk of eviction. Since then, the CDC has stepped in to temporarily halt evictions through the end of the year.
“The reason for the CDC’s order is a public health issue,” said Mark Fessler, who is the head of the housing unit at South Carolina Legal Services.
That’s because studies show evictions lead to upticks in COVID-19. The CDC’s order went into effect Friday. To qualify, renters have to declare in a written statement that they’re struggling to make their payments.
“Print out the declaration, sign it, get it to your landlord,” Fessler said. “Get it to your landlord in some way that you can prove that you delivered it “
But for many renters, it’s already too late.
“Since the end of the state moratorium, our private evictions, so not looking at federally subsidized evictions, which were under the CARES moratorium for a period of time…those cases are up about 127 percent from where they were last year,” Fessler said.
Fessler said some groups, such as SC Thrive and the Greenville County Human Relations Commission, have money to give out for rent assistance. Non-profit “SHARE” is also offering renters support, according to its president and CEO.
If renters remain behind on rent at the end of the year, they could face eviction.
Fessler said it’s a problem for landlords, too.
“I think the hope and perhaps the only possibility for financial remedy here is through some sort of federal appropriation,” he said. “And that of course depends on the political climate in Washington.”
The SC State Bar and SC Legal Aid also created a hotline to help low-income families and individuals facing civil legal problems as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The hotline number is (833) 958-2266. Those calling are asked to leave a brief message detailing their situation. Lawyers say they can help negotiate payment plans or help find a resolution.