FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — Demonstrators gathered outside the Forsyth County Government Center Wednesday morning to call for more relief when it comes to housing.
Speakers from groups like Housing Justice Now and Siembra NC also asked county leaders to stop serving eviction notices during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Their little children are wondering where will we stay at where will I sleep tonight? We already have too many homeless people in this city and across this nation so again we’re calling on our elected officials to do their due diligence and support these people as they are in a time of need,” said organizer Phillip Carter.
Several people also shared their own experiences with substandard housing in Winston-Salem. Chasity Graham told FOX8 she is currently fighting an eviction case. If she’s forced to leave her home, she doesn’t know where she’ll end up.
“We all need shelter, we all need protection from this COVID, just having to worry about where the next meal is coming from already, then worrying about where you’re going to take the kids or just being misplaced and it’s horrible and it shouldn’t be done,” Graham said.
Demonstrators held signs reading “Housing is Healthcare” and “Eviction Kills.”
In Forsyth County, deputies have served at least 41 eviction notices since a statewide moratorium was lifted June 20.
Dr. Stephen Sills with UNCG’s Center for Housing and Community Studies said courts are dealing with a backlog of about 9,000 cases statewide. He worries that number will climb over the next few months.
“We lost over 30,000 jobs in the Greensboro/ High Point statistical area, and many of those jobs are not coming back. They’re permanent losses to our community. Those are preliminary figures we still don’t know in the last how many additional jobs were lost in the local economy,” he said.
Sills explained that there are programs in the works to help support tenants. Greensboro Housing Coalition’s Eviction Resolution Program is providing emergency rent relief for renters who qualify.
Additionally, a partnership between Legal Aid of NC, Elon Law School, the Human Relations Department of the City of Greensboro, and UNC Greensboro’s Peace and Conflict Studies will help provide legal support.
“We’re anticipating that these mediators will be trained to negotiate a payback schedule for those who are behind on their rent in order to avoid eviction, the Elon law students will be trained to help as negotiators for those who are already facing summary ejectment, or an eviction filing,” Sills explained.