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Evictions in Mecklenburg County rising back to pre-pandemic levels

Forced evictions are steadily rising in Mecklenburg County and are nearly back to pre-pandemic levels, based on new data from the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office.

In response to a request from WFAE, the sheriff's office provided data showing the number of writs of possession the office received on a monthly basis dating back to Aug ust 2019.

The data provides a window into the number of forced — or court-ordered — evictions in Mecklenburg County, though it doesn't include cases where tenants leave without court intervention, or before the sheriff's office receives a landlord's writ of possession, allowing deputies to padlock the home.

While forced evictions fell to historic lows early in the pandemic and remained low during federal and state eviction moratoriums, cases have been steadily rising since the federal moratorium ended in August 2021.

Cases even surpassed pre-pandemic levels in January 2022, when the sheriff's office received 1 ,018 writs of possession, compared to 921 in January 2020.

In August 2022 — the most recent month for which data is available — the sheriff's office received 883 writs of possession, compared to 1 ,006 in August 2019.

"We have seen over the last few months like a small increase, month by month, and now we're back to where we are, and we're afraid we're going beyond that," said Isaac Sturgill, a staff attorney with Legal Aid of North Carolina.

Sturgill said the majority of cases his group sees involve nonpayment of rent. Average rents in the Charlotte area have risen 14.5% over the past twelve months, according to ApartmentList.com.

Sturgill also said eviction court cases his group sees disproportionately involve tenants of color, especially African American women.

His best advice for tenants who have received an eviction notice is to seek out rental assistance and legal help as soon as possible.

Mecklenburg County's emergency rental assistance program, RAMP CharMeck, accepts new applications from people needing rental assistance between the first and 15th of each month.

The program is only accepting applications from Mecklenburg County residents with an official eviction notice and an assigned court date, or tho se earning less than 60% of the area's median income — or about $39,600 for an individual, or about $56,520 for a family of four.

Eligible households can receive up to 12 months of rental assistance, plus an additional three months if funds allow.

Crisis Assistance Ministries is also offering emergency rental assistance to Mecklenburg County residents in need. Applications must be made i n person at the nonprofit's office at 500-A Spratt St.

Residents who are facing a court-ordered eviction will receive priority over people who have late notices for rent and have not yet been in court.

Copyright 2022 WFAE. To see more, visit WFAE.

WFAE's Nick de la Canal can be heard on public radio airwaves across the Charlotte region, bringing listeners the latest in local and regional news updates. He's been a part of the WFAE newsroom since 2013, when he began as an intern. His reporting helped the station earn an Edward R. Murrow award for breaking news coverage following the Keith Scott shooting and protests in September 2016. More recently, he's been reporting on food, culture, transportation, immigration, and even the paranormal on the FAQ City podcast. He grew up in Charlotte, graduated from Myers Park High, and received his degree in journalism from Emerson College in Boston. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal