CHARLESTON (AP) – A federal freeze on most evictions passed last year is set to expire on July 31, after the Biden administration extended the date by one month. The moratorium, put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in September, was the only tool allowing millions of tenants to stay in their homes. Many of them lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic and were months behind on their rent.
The owners successfully challenged the order in court, arguing that they also had bills to pay. They pointed out that tenants could access more than $ 45 billion in federal funds set aside to help pay rent and related expenses.
Tenant advocates say the cash flow has been slow and it takes longer to distribute it and reimburse landlords. Without an extension, they feared an upsurge in evictions and lawsuits aimed at evicting tenants behind on their rents.
As of June 7, about 3.2 million people in the United States said they were at risk of deportation within the next two months, according to the US Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. The survey measures the social and economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic every two weeks using online responses from a representative sample of American households.
Here is the situation in West Virginia:
WHAT IS THE STATUS OF STATE DELETION MORATORIES?
West Virginia was not among the states that declared a moratorium last year ending deportation proceedings and generally follows the federal moratorium. Governor Jim Justice had pleaded with landlords not to act to evict tenants during the pandemic, but thousands of eviction cases have still been filed.
WHAT IS BEING DONE TO HELP PEOPLE TARGETING EVICTIONS?
Justice was among four governors, all Republicans, who chose not to implement statewide rent relief programs last year after Congress passed its first rent relief program. help with coronaviruses.
This year, West Virginia received $ 152 million in emergency rental aid as part of the US bailout plan championed by President Joe Biden. Renters who meet income thresholds can apply for the program, administered by the West Virginia Housing Development Fund. An additional $ 38.5 million is planned to help low-income residents pay their utility bills.
Public housing authorities and local government consortia statewide have also received millions of dollars this year from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to help provide rent assistance.
HOW DO THE COURTS HANDLE EXVICTION HEARINGS?
Magistrates’ courts continued to allow deportation requests, but most hearings were delayed until the CDC’s moratorium expired, West Virginia Supreme Court spokeswoman Jennifer said. Bundy. Once the freeze is over, the state justice system can expect “An influx of cases and hearings”, she said.
According to Legal Aid of West Virginia, the court eviction process is moving fast. Typically, a district court hearing does not take place more than 10 days after an owner begins proceedings.
There are two types of procedures. One, called a summary eviction, is used by a landlord to take quick action, but usually they can’t seek damages or rent unless the tenant responds to the complaint or appears at trial. In the other procedure, called illegal detention, the owner can claim damages.
Bundy said 10,625 summary deportation cases were filed from June 2020 to June 2021, when there were 920 cases of unlawful detention.
WHAT IS AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN THE STATE’S MAJOR RENTAL MARKETS?
The market value of a two-bedroom apartment in West Virginia is among the lowest in the country at $ 778, but many residents can’t even afford it. About 16% of West Virginia residents live in poverty, while 34% of children had parents who were not working full time in 2019, according to the U.S. Census.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition said there was a shortage of affordable rental housing available for low-income households. It indicates that the annual household income required to rent a two-bedroom house in the state is approximately $ 31,000.
“It sounds like affordable housing, but it’s not affordable when you don’t even earn $ 15 an hour” said Ellen Allen, executive director of the nonprofit aid group Covenant House in Charleston. “There are so many people out there who are tinkering with just enough part-time jobs to get their rent and utilities paid.”
The Washington, DC metro market, which is among the most expensive in the country, includes parts of West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle. According to a report released on June 16 by Realtor.com, the median monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment has increased 5.9% over the past year to $ 2,328.
SHOULD EVICTIONS CREATE AN INCREASE IN HOMELESSNESS?
Allen said she is “very worried” that homelessness will increase as court cases are heard.
Census data shows that 6,042 state residents fear deportation within the next two months.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press.