NEW ORLEANS — The eviction filings have been piling up at New Orleans First City Court since the pandemic. When we met Austin Badon, the clerk of First City Court, he had to use a rolling cart to show us the number of filings.
“So, there 450 that are pending. This is not counting what I’m anticipating coming in starting on July 1,” said Badon.
The federal ban on evictions is set to expire at the end of June. Over the past year, that ban has been extended to prevent people from possibly catching or spreading COVID if they got evicted and had to search for a new home. With the U.S. vaccination rate nearing 70%, the moratorium will likely fade as some states question the need for it.
“It has been very difficult for the Biden administration to keep the eviction moratorium going under the onslaught of legal challenges,” said Adreanecia Morris, executive director of Housing NOLA.
Morris says New Orleans had a severe shortage of affordable housing pre-pandemic. She believes conditions after the moratorium expires will reach crisis levels. Morris says this scope of the issue goes far beyond just tenants behind on rent.
“We’ve gotten numbers from the school board, and there’s dramatic number of cases homeless children. Some of those numbers have doubled but people keep ignoring them,” said Morris.
First City Court clerk Austin Badon also predicts a likely increase of people living in their cars or on the street. Badon says many landlords, especially the mom-and-pop ones, are in difficult positions. They’ve taking financial hits during the pandemic and also must find ways to pay their bills. He’s urging landlords and tenants have a dialogue about their options before the eviction ban is lifted.
“Landlords don’t want to put people out. But because of the moratorium, they have not been receiving any rent. So, they’re in a tough spot,” said Badon.
We met Cordelia Rogers in December. Back then, she was trying to stay in her rental home in New Orleans East after getting furloughed. Since then, her lease expired, and her landlord did not want to extend their agreement.
“I can’t even explain the emotions that I felt. At first, I felt confusion and then I felt anger,” said Rogers.
Since May 1st, Rogers has been living out of a hotel. She doesn’t use the word homeless to describe her situation. Instead, she says she’s temporarily displaced.
“So, I’m hoping that within the next couple of weeks I can find something that will be more stable,” said Rogers.
If the predicted wave of evictions hits, many more people maybe searching for that same stability.