Hundreds of evictions filed in the Tri-County since moratorium lifted

VIDEO: Hundreds of evictions filed in the Tri-County since moratorium lifted

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - It’s been more than two months since the moratorium on evictions in South Carolina was lifted and requests for help are still coming in.

An order from the Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court Donald Beatty paused court proceedings on evictions and foreclosures in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.

Many organizations prepared for a surge in people needing assistance.

“We have had a significant increase in folks looking for assistance,” Kristin Bastian, the Grants and Operations Director for Origin SC, said.

People needing help with rent, mortgage payments, utility bills and more has impacted our entire community.

“Folks that wouldn’t normally have thought that they would need rental assistance or to prevent eviction or help with their mortgage payments are now needing that,” Bastian said.

Origin SC is a nonprofit organization that helps people with anything revolving around financial and housing stability. Bastian has been working with people, firsthand, who are in a tight situation.

“It is difficult but we just want to be as empathetic and understanding of every situation as we can,” Bastian said.

According to numbers compiled through the Eviction Lab Project at Princeton University, North Charleston takes the top spot when it comes to evictions in large cities.

“The rate of evictions in North Charleston has just… it was eye opening for us to be number one,” Bastian said.

Bastian added evictions died down for a while because of the moratoriums in place because of the COVID-19 Pandemic. But, that didn’t stop folks from being late on their payments anyways.

“We’ve had to actually bring on more staff to accommodate the increase in those needing assistance and an increase in the amount of assistance that’s just available.”

According to the magistrate courts in Tri-County, hundreds of evictions have been filed since the moratorium was lifted.

  • Charleston County: 911
  • Berkeley County: 332
  • Dorchester County: 340

Those numbers, however, are lower than what we saw in the same time period last year. From June 1, 2019 to July 31, 2019, Charleston County had 2,322 evictions filed. Berkeley County, from June 1, 2019 to Aug. 11, 2019, had 1,230 evictions filed. Dorchester County, from July 2019 to Aug. 13, 2019, recorded 1,007 eviction cases filed.”

The silver lining in all of this is there are multiple agencies working together to help with payment assistance.

“We did just receive $250,000 from the State Office of Economic Opportunity to help with short term rent and utilities and mortgage payments, up to three months,” Bastian said.

Origin SC said that’s just one of their grants they’ve received and there are different qualifications because they have different pools of money. Typically, though, they’re looking at income restrictions.

“For the new funds that we just received, folks have to be at or below 50% of area median income, which for a family of four is around $40,000,” Bastian added.

That new program is expected to last until June of 2022 and Origin SC is looking to help up to 250 families if they can.

Right now, Origin SC is helping about 30 families a month but they are expecting that number to keep going up. Documents you’ll need to supply Origin SC for consideration includes leases, copies of IDs, and Social Security cards, late notices, eviction notices, etc.

If you are in need of assistance, here is where you can go to contact Origin SC: https://originsc.org/homeless-prevention/

There are multiple agencies who are also helping with payment assistance including the Charleston Urban League. Trident United Way also has a list of resources for help with housing and utility. You can also utilize Trident United Way’s 2-1-1 Helpline.

Copyright 2020 WCSC. All rights reserved.