PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It’s supposed to be a time for Thanksgiving and family gatherings, but some renters now face looming evictions weeks before the new year.
Eviction notices can pop up on doors across our area starting Jan. 2. If you’re still unemployed or sick with COVID, you’ll have to start paying rent.
Allegheny County Council asked the courts to give people more time to recover, but it’s just a request right now.
The holiday season in the middle of a global pandemic is quite possibly the worst time to receive an eviction notice.
“Housing is a human right,” said Anne Wright with CMU CREATE Lab. “There’s international law that housing is a human right and we’re not behaving as if it were.”
Anne Wright knows about Allegheny County evictions. She’s literally tracking and graphing the numbers.
She works for Carnegie Mellon’s CREATE Lab. She tracked 76 eviction filings in July, 87 in August. The eviction notices spiked in September to 851 right after the moratorium ended in August. So far this month, she’s counted 343 new filings.
“A lot of them are single parents and they’re doing the best that they can for their children. They’re working really hard, they’re working to the best of their ability but they’re in a situation where they have to fight over scraps,” said Wright.
The current federal order restricting evictions expires Dec. 31.
That’s why local leaders want to act.
“The governor is saying it’s the state Legislature’s fault, the Legislature is saying it’s the governor’s fault, the local governments are trying to implement things and blaming the state Legislature and the federal Legislature, but nothing is happening,” said Allegheny County Councilwoman Bethany Hallam.
That’s why the Allegheny County Council voted 11-3, with one council member abstaining, requesting the local courts extend the moratorium until October 2021.
“The reason for that date is some of the health professional tables that we’ve been sitting at as members of council have been saying even though it’s likely that by spring a vaccine is out, it won’t be until the fall before it has widespread access to the vaccine,” said Hallam.
KDKA’s Meghan Schiller reached out to the courts to find out if they plan to act on the county council’s suggestions. She was told the situation regarding evictions continues to be “reviewed on a regular basis.”