News

The Federal Moratorium Doesn’t Stop All Evictions. Some Tenants Learn The Hard Way.

In this Oct. 14, 2020, photo, housing activists erect a sign in Swampscott, Massachusetts. A federal eviction moratorium, which was set to expire June 30, has been extended another month. However, many people are still not aware that evictions can still happen.
In this Oct. 14, 2020, photo, housing activists erect a sign in Swampscott, Massachusetts. A federal eviction moratorium, which was set to expire June 30, has been extended another month. However, many people are still not aware that evictions can still happen.
Credit Michael Dwyer / Associated Press file

A federal eviction moratorium, set to expire June 30, has been extended for one more month.

But many are still unaware evictions can happen while the ban from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is in place.

Stacy Carlton learned that for herself.

She heard news reports, describing the nationwide ban on evictions. She says she called the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office to confirm (the office could not comment on her memory of the call).

She believed the moratorium gave her time.

“It’s so hard when you get behind, and it’s hard to catch up,” Carlton says. “I had a little savings. Right now, I don’t have anything.”

She lost her job as a cook early in the pandemic. She received some unemployment, but she says it wasn’t enough to cover her bills. She got COVID-19 at one point.

After a few months, Carlton couldn’t pay her rent at her DeKalb County apartment. Eventually, her landlord sent an eviction notice.

Stacy Carlton lost work as a cook during the pandemic and eventually fell months behind on rent. She was evicted while she waited on her rental assistance application. (Courtesy of Stacy Carlton)
Stacy Carlton lost work as a cook during the pandemic and eventually fell months behind on rent. She was evicted while she waited on her rental assistance application. (Courtesy of Stacy Carlton)

Landlords can do that during the eviction moratorium.

The moratorium, aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, is supposed to protect tenants from the last part of the eviction process — being forced out of their homes.

But first, tenants must sign a form, promising they lost income to COVID-19 — that’s written in the rule that originally ordered the moratorium last September.

Carlton says she didn’t know about that step.

She applied for rental assistance with DeKalb County and was simply waiting on her application — until last month.

“Then, all of a sudden, they was knocking at my door, telling me it’s time for me to move,” she says.

Law enforcement was there to facilitate her eviction.

Carlton packed her things into a storage unit and moved into a motel, where she pays weekly rates that are about double her previous rent.

She says she’s now trying to find a lesson in her experience.

“I feel that God let things happen for a reason,” Carlton says. “So maybe I can do better, or make sure this don’t happen again.”

She restarted work as a cook. She says she’s also heard back about her rental assistance application.

It’s too late to keep her apartment. But she can get some money to pay off her past-due rent.