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As CDC extends eviction moratorium, 11,000 landlord-tenant filings float in Fulton County limbo

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A Trump-era stay on eviction proceedings has again been extended, affording a little extra breathing room for the millions of Americans threatened with displacement amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it would extend the federal eviction moratorium, which was set to expire on Thursday, until at least June 30. 

This isn’t the first time the CDC has pushed back the expiration date on the order, although, with more Americans getting vaccinated for COVID-19 and governments easing pandemic restrictions, it’s unclear if the agency might extend it again this summer. 

It’s crucial, too, for people staring down the barrel of eviction proceedings to understand that the federal and local eviction moratoriums don’t equate to rent relief; CDC materials indicate they’ll still owe landlords for past-due rent once the protections are lifted. 

Additionally, plenty of eviction filings are floating in legal limbo, awaiting the end of the moratoria. 

In Fulton County, for instance, nearly 23,000 landlord-tenant cases were filed with the magistrate court in 2020, Judge Cassandra Kirk said during a webinar last week.

Most of those, however, have been disposed of, Kirk said. Still, almost 11,000 cases remain. A large portion of them — 4,500 cases — have cropped up in just November and December. “As people began to believe that the moratorium would be over, our numbers came back up,” Kirk said.

Indeed, Fulton County residents aren’t without a paddle, waiting for what experts have called a looming “tsunami” of evictions that could crash once the moratoria expire. Last month, county officials debuted a rental assistance program that allows residents — except those in Atlanta — to apply for up to $1,500 a month to help with housing-related bills. 

Also, the county urges concerned residents to reach out to the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation, Star-C, the Urban League of Greater Atlanta and other organizations for assistance with eviction prevention and rent relief.

Kirk also said last week that Fulton County’s board of commissioners “is looking at legislation that would allow those people who had landlord-tenant cases filed against them — but did not result in eviction — to have those actually cleared from their record. It will allow those people a chance to move forward without having those things hanging over their heads.”

(Header image, via Google Maps: Fulton County’s main government building.)

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