MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Thousands of people in Shelby County have at least one more month until a nationwide eviction moratorium is lifted. While the moratorium has been extended by the latest COVID relief bill, at this point, there is no money for landlords.
Memphis Area Legal Services CEO Cindy Ettingoff said the organization Princeton Eviction Lab estimates more than 40 percent of people in Memphis are facing eviction or on the verge of it. Since the pandemic has started, MALS has partnered with the Eviction Settlement Program and has used more than $1.8 million to help 1,200 families avoid eviction.
Most of the money was from the CARES act which has since run out.
“While the eviction moratorium is extended through January 31, I am beating the bushes looking for money,” Ettingoff said.
The latest COVID-19 relief bill extended the eviction moratorium issued in September by the CDC by one month. It was set to expire on New Year’s Eve. But Ettingoff said it’s just a protection for tenants at this point. There is no money in the bill allocated to communities for landlords to help tenants avoid eviction when a moratorium is lifted.
“The difference in the current stimulus bill is [lawmakers] carved out the payments to the states and cities and counties,” Ettingoff said. “Those have not been voted on yet. They carved those into a separate bill because they’re trying to figure out perhaps some better way of doing it.”
Ettingoff said the Eviction Settlement Program would need $1.3 million more dollars to get tenants in its portal relieved from eviction. That’s roughly another 1,200 families.
While Washington still deals with how to get communities money, Ettingoff suggests understanding what money you have rights to from the government and working with your landlord.
“It’s just there needs to be communication,” she said. “If you don’t have a landlord sitting around reading the stimulus bill, then they may not realize there is additional money coming.”