Evictions happening in Richmond County despite federal moratorium

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – A federal moratorium on evictions is in effect. And while it doesn’t expire until next month, local people are still being ordered out of their homes.

The Richmond County Marshal’s Office carried out two evictions at an Augusta apartment complex Monday, adding to the hundreds done throughout this COVID-19 pandemic year.

You may think evictions like that happen more as we approach another year of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Actually, it’s just the opposite,” said Lt. Terry Norman, Executive Officer with the Richmond County Marshal’s Office. “We’ve seen a dramatic decrease in the number of evictions we’re receiving from the Magistrate Court Clerk’s Office.”

With COVID-19 infections and businesses forced to close at the start of the pandemic some people lost jobs, had hours cut and simply could not work. And those reasons may be why the Marshal’s Office saw a small drop in evictions reported by the court.

During 2019 there were more than 4400 evictions received from the court and more than 1200 carried out. When the pandemic hit, that court number dropped to more than 4200, but actual evictions increased to more than 1900. This year only about 250 of the 550 evictions have happened.

Lt. Norman added, “In the beginning, the Marshal’s Office and the courts came to an agreement to do a moratorium for 90 days where we didn’t conduct any evictions. That was lifted, then at some point, the CDC produced this declaration that helped renters. That was done in September 2020.”

The federal government extended that moratorium until the end of March, allowing tenants to produce the document and stop the eviction. The Marshal’s Office sees that letter from about half of its evictions and so does a local property management company.

“Considering how many properties we manage, we’ve had very few tenants file for relieve under the CDC guidelines,” said William Walker, who owner Walker Real Estate.

Walker manages several hundred properties in Harrisburg, Downtown Augusta and South Augusta. He said he’s working with some tenants who are making partial payments. Others have been evicted. He told us about five are sent to the court each month and only one is carried out.

“Some tenants are already three, four, five months behind on rent and that rent is not going away. It’s going to come due at some point,” he said.

People have been calling the Marshal’s Office for help and they have been directing people to Georgia Legal Services.

Here are a few other resources:

CDC & HHS Federal Eviction Moratorium Order

CSRA Economic Opportunity Authority

United Way of the CSRA

Beulah Grove Community Resource Center

Need Help Paying Bills

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