March 17, 2020

On Halting Evictions, “We Have Legal Obligations, At The Same Time We Have Moral Compasses”

Good things happen to those who demand them. Monday, Dan Rose and Phillip Carter of Housing Justice Now held a press conference calling for “an immediate halt to all eviction and foreclosure proceedings, and to ask city officials to contribute $500,000 for emergency relief during the pandemic.” They then took to social media to get the word out. HJN Winston-Salem also spoke directly to Sheriff Kimbrough and other stakeholders about halting local evictions already in the pipeline. Hopefully, the tireless efforts of Housing Justice Now will keep residents in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County from being evicted this week and lead to a statewide eviction moratorium.

North Carolina’s courtrooms have practically closed down for 30 days, to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus/COVID-19. New evictions have temporarily come to a halt in North Carolina because courtrooms (and any large gathering space) are unsafe at this time. But the Forsyth County Sheriff’s office currently has 76 eviction orders have been processed and are ready to be served. Sheriff Kimbrough said that four evictions are planned to be served today unless the courts tell him otherwise.

It’s unbelievable that at a time when “shelter in place” is the remedy to slow this pandemic, the sheriff’s office has been asked to unshelter individuals and families. What could be more unsafe than putting people on the street without shelter or making them stay with friends and family members (the opposite of social isolation) during this crisis?

There are so many empty hotel rooms and apartments right now. Our government should be working to put humans in decent housing, not put them out on the street. One recently vacated 168-unit apartment complex would be ideal for temporary housing.

Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough is about as conscientious as a county sheriff could possibly be. He stated Tuesday that “this is not business as usual.” Kimbrough said we will always do what is legal, “but we try to balance, legal, moral, and a touch of humanity. Kimbrough reiterated that writs that have already been signed have to be executed unless the courts intervene. That “if it was Bobby’s world, I would not serve them.”

 

HJN Eviction Press Release

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