On this episode of Housing on Monday Evening (HOME), Laura Hogshead, Director of Recovery and Resiliency in the N.C. Department of Public Safety, joins us to talk about our new 88-county Eviction Diversion Program, which fights to keep struggling renters in their homes during the COVID-related eviction crisis. The new program is a partnership with NC HOPE, part of the N.C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency, which distributes rental and utility assistance to North Carolinians in 88 counties. Learn how our Eviction Diversion Program and NC HOPE are working together to keep renters safe and sound across the state. #NCORR
RALEIGH — Tenants in North Carolina who are facing eviction or struggling with other housing issues have a new, easier way to get free legal help.
As of yesterday, North Carolinians in all 100 counties can call 1-877-201-6426 (toll-free) to connect directly to our newly expanded team of housing lawyers, paralegals and outreach workers. The Housing Helpline is open Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
“Tenants facing eviction or struggling with other housing problems no longer have to call our general Helpline, which has been overwhelmed with callers since the start of the pandemic,” said Scheree M. Gilchrist, managing attorney of our Central Intake Unit, which runs the helplines.
“Our new Housing Helpline allows tenants to bypass the general queue, avoid long hold times and quickly reach our housing specialists,” Gilchrist said. “We are in the middle of an eviction crisis and evictions move fast in North Carolina. We don’t want families being put out on the street because they couldn’t reach us in time.”
While we are launching the Housing Helpline largely in response to the COVID-related eviction crisis, the helpline is available to tenants with any housing issue, including problems with repairs and maintenance, housing vouchers, public housing, mobile homes, rental assistance programs and other issues.
The Housing Helpline is part of our new 88-county eviction diversion program, which boosts services to residents of traditionally underserved, largely rural counties in our state. The new program serves the same 88 counties covered by the North Carolina Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (HOPE) Program, which provides rent and utility assistance to struggling tenants.
While we have always handled eviction cases in these 88 counties, new funding from the North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency has allowed us to increase our services in these areas. With the new funding, we have hired more lawyers, paralegals and outreach workers to provide more holistic services to tenants. In addition to the core legal services we have always provided—legal advice and representation—the new program allows us to dedicate more resources to negotiating with landlords and helping tenants resolve any barriers to receiving rental assistance from HOPE and other programs.
A partnership with the HOPE Program is an integral part of our new eviction diversion effort. We will receive referrals directly from HOPE, educate tenants and landlords about how the program works, negotiate with landlords who do not want to accept HOPE funds, and represent tenants in court when the landlord chooses to pursue an eviction rather than accept the HOPE funds or after accepting rental assistance.
“We are excited about this partnership with HOPE,” Peter Gilbert, the head of the new eviction diversion program, said. “Legal assistance and rental assistance are both often necessary to keeping people in their homes. By working together, Legal Aid NC and HOPE can make sure that all the necessary elements come together to prevent eviction and keep families off the street.”
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Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity. Learn more at legalaidnc.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube. Need legal help? Call 1-866-219-5262 (toll-free) or apply online.
Sean Driscoll, Director of Public Relations, 919-856-2132, email@example.com
Isaac Sturgill, head of our housing practice group, gives you step-by-step instructions for appealing an eviction judgment in North Carolina.
DURHAM—Environmental justice advocate, MacArthur “Genius” Fellow and author of Waste: One woman’s fight against America’s Dirty Secret, Catherine Coleman Flowers will give a free virtual lecture about housing and environmental injustice May 20 from 12-1 p.m.
The lecture is hosted by the Durham Eviction Diversion Program, a partnership of Legal Aid of North Carolina and Duke Law’s Civil Justice Clinic; and the Nicholas School of Environmental Science at Duke University.
The lecture is the second in a series launched in February by the Durham Eviction Diversion Program to support the new Durham Rental Assistance Fund, which provides badly needed rental assistance to low-income tenants in Durham County, a hotspot for North Carolina’s eviction crisis.
To attend the Flowers lecture
- On Zoom: Use the form below or click here to register. (You do not need a Zoom account to register or attend.)
- On Facebook: Visit our Facebook page at 12 p.m. on May 20 to watch the live broadcast.
To give to the Durham Rental Assistance fund
- Go to our online donation form
- Select “Durham Rental Assistance Fund” in the “Donation Designation” drop-down menu
- Complete and submit the donation form
To learn more about the Durham Eviction Diversion Program’s lecture series, contact Community Resource Coordinator Dr. Alexis Clark.
On this episode of HOME (Housing on Monday Evening), Isaac Sturgill, head of our housing practice group, gives an update on the Centers for Disease Control’s eviction moratorium, which has been extended to June 30, 2021. Isaac discusses who is protected by the moratorium, the types of evictions that are–and are not–covered by it, and what actions renters have to take to protect themselves from eviction.
RALEIGH—Legal Aid of North Carolina is suing state and county court officials to stop the issuance of eviction orders that violate both the nationwide eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Governor Cooper’s executive order affirming the CDC moratorium.
We filed the suit November 9 in Wake County Superior Court.
Legal Aid is asking the court to stop Archie Smith, clerk of superior court for Durham County, from ordering county sheriffs to evict tenants who are protected by the CDC moratorium and the Governor’s Executive Order. We are also asking the court to order McKinley Wooten, director of the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), and Nicole Brinkley, assistant counsel for the AOC, to direct all clerks of county courts to stop issuing writs of possession in such cases until a judge orders that a writ be issued.
The CDC moratorium temporarily prohibits the eviction of tenants who cannot pay their rent. To qualify for the moratorium’s protection, a tenant must submit to their landlord a declaration in which the tenant swears—under penalty of perjury—that they are protected by the moratorium. The agency issued the moratorium to keep people in their homes, thereby slowing the spread of COVID-19. The moratorium took effect September 4 and remains in effect through December 31.
Amidst widespread confusion about and noncompliance with the CDC moratorium, Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 171 on October 28. The executive order affirms that the moratorium applies to all residential tenants in the state and mandates that a landlord cannot request a writ of possession to evict a tenant who has submitted a declaration.
Nevertheless, the Administrative Office of the Courts directed clerks of county courts to issue writs of possession when the tenant has submitted a declaration to their landlord. This directive is contrary to both the CDC Order and the Governor’s executive order. Many clerks have followed the AOC’s directive, including Archie Smith in Durham, and have caused low-income residents who should be safe from eviction to become homeless.
Legal Aid filed the lawsuit on behalf of Durham residents facing eviction and a nonprofit advocacy group, Action NC. If the Durham residents are evicted, the tenants—a mother, her 3-year-old child and the child’s father—will become homeless, which will put them at increased risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19, all through no fault of their own. The mother and father lost their jobs during the pandemic.
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Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity. Learn more at legalaidnc.org.
Sean Driscoll, director of public relations, 919-856-2132, firstname.lastname@example.org