'It's so hard:' Renters being kicked out of their homes despite eviction moratorium

It's the stark reality for so many renters, they are facing eviction with no place to go.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Americans fell behind on their rent after losing their jobs or having their hours cut due to COVID.

In central North Carolina, thousands are expected to lose their homes even though Congress just passed a new coronavirus relief bill that extends the CDC moratorium on evictions through Jan. 31.

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"I don't know what I'm going to do. I don't know where I'm going to put my stuff," said a Fayetteville mom to a little boy, who asked us not to use her name. She was working full-time but then tested positive for COVID-19 and lost her job and fell two months behind on her rent.



While she found a new job, her lease is up on Dec. 24 and her landlord won't let her stay unless she comes up with the $2,560.

"It's so hard. I just want to have a place for my son and obviously, I'm working from home so without my home, I won't have my job so it's just kind of a domino effect and I lost my car also so it was just thing after thing after thing," she said.

Garner resident Heather Hodge, a mom of three, is also facing losing her home.

"This is the first month I'm going to be late and I already have the papers that says he's started the eviction process," Hodge said.

Her job was also impacted by COVID-19 -- her hours were cut to a third of what she was working, making it tough to keep up with the rent.

"It hurts me more than anything because I worked hard for it and now that something that wasn't my fault has kicked me around," she said.

Throughout the pandemic, there have been two federal eviction moratoriums that have tried to help thousands of renters.

These actions have partially helped. In North Carolina, eviction filings this year are down 47 percent compared to 2019, but landlords still filed more than 46,000 evictions between April and November and thousands of others are hanging on by a thread.



"This is a crisis-level event, evictions were already a crisis before COVID, and the inability of the government to really be able to structure relief systems and programs, or at least even take COVID-19 seriously before this happened is what made the situation worse," said Jesse McCoy, who runs the Durham County Eviction Diversion Program in partnership with Legal Aid of North Carolina.

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The Cary couple, who wished to remain anonymous, wanted to make sure they could give hope to those struggling this holiday.



Throughout the pandemic, McCoy says their program continues to try and help distressed renters.

"COVID doesn't discriminate based on income levels," he said. "Now we've got people who are actually in the middle class who are now being affected by evictions whereas before this was viewed as kind of a low-income issue."

Part of the new COVID-19 relief bill includes $25 billion in emergency rental relief but it's not clear what it means for monetary relief for renters and landlords.

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While past federal action has sought to paused evictions, renters are still on the hook for the money they owe, which leaves many in an endless rat race trying to catch up.

"The problem is that a lot of these people also did not pay rent from March, until roughly like September because they weren't working. So, even now that they're able to take care of these, they just don't make enough to pay off the deficit and that's really frustrating," McCoy said.

That is exactly what the Fayetteville mom is facing. Even though she found a new job, it doesn't pay nearly enough to get caught up on the past rent owed. Now she's just hoping for a Christmas miracle.

"Just working on myself and being a good mom that's all I can do," she said.

To help the Fayetteville mom, click here for her GoFundMe. In less than two hours, generous ABC11 viewers donated more than $2,500. Another generous viewer plans to call her apartment complex to pay her rent in full.

Landlords are impacted just as much. Many have mortgages, taxes to pay and if they are not getting rent for months, it creates a financial hardship for them too. That's why there are so many people are waiting to see what kind of exact relief this new COVID-19 bill will bring to renters and landlords.
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