Legal experts, advocates help mediate evictions inside the Guilford County Courthouse: ‘Don’t give up’

Piedmont Triad News

GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — The Eviction Mediation & Housing Navigation Program is now fully operational inside the Guilford County Courthouse in Greensboro.

The program is a partnership between Legal Aid, Guilford County DSS, and the City of Greensboro Neighborhood Development Department.

The team assists with applications to the city’s Emergency Rental and Utility Assistance Program, and staff can fast-track applications for those facing eviction.

“People don’t show up because they think there’s nothing they can say that’s going to change the outcome, there’s nobody out there to help them,” said Renée Norris, Eviction Mediation & Housing Navigation coordinator.

On Tuesday approximately 80 people are on the docket for eviction. Norris provides on-the-spot mediation between renters and landlords.

“One of the people I spoke to the courthouse, this is a retired person on fixed income moved here from the north, and without this emergency rental assistance, us being there to explain to her help her apply for it she could’ve been someone that was going to be homeless,” Norris said.

In total, the program has facilitated between 30-40 sit-down meetings. Norris called mediation a safe space between renters and property owners.

“They’re sharing all the hardship that they’ve been going through, and landlords will all of a sudden look at the tenant and say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that, you didn’t call me, you didn’t let me know,’” she said.

The partnership aims to reduce homelessness, especially following the end of federal and statewide protections against evictions.

“Shelters are overwhelmed, already winter is coming, the health of people who are evicted declines. So these are all things as a community that we will be paying more for than if we just at this time try to help these people,” Norris said.

She explained landlords are willing to work their tenants, but renters have to show up. Out of 85 cases on the docket on Oct. 5, only about eight people came to their hearings.

“Don’t give up, don’t think there’s nothing I can do. Show up at court, show up on Tuesday even if that’s not your day because we’ll be there and we’re willing to talk to you,” Norris said.

Right now, due to funding, the team is only inside the courthouse on Tuesdays in Greensboro.

They’re hoping to expand to High Point, and offer additional days in the future.

If you need help filling out an application, or mediation with your landlord call Renee Norris at (336) 334-3731.

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