ATLANTA — It started as a way to keep people suffering financial hardships during the pandemic from being cast out onto the street and continued through the first half of 2021 as restrictions eased.
As of 11:59 p.m, Saturday, the federal government’s moratorium on evictions expired, leaving both tenants and property owners in limbo.
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Channel 2′s Ashli Lincoln spoke with Schantayln Sherman, who said she’s struggling to deal with an eviction notice that was taped to her door just hours after the announcement the moratorium was going to be lifted.
“It was shocking,” Sherman said. “Once that lifted, I knew that all the gates would be open for landlords to go after tenants”
Sherman is a single mother who cares for her 18-year old daughter with special needs. Her daughter is also confined to a wheelchair.
“I injured myself trying to take care of her,” Sherman said.
Sherman told Lincoln the injury kept her from being able to work during the pandemic. It caused her to fall behind on her rent.
“That truly set me back financially,” Sherman said.
She said the 2020 moratorium was a blessing for her. It allowed Sherman to keep a roof over her head, She said she tried to catch up on her rent with disability checks and rental assistance.
“My intentions, my obligation is to take care of my responsibilities,” Sherman said. “And I want to be able to provide for my daughter. I want to one day have a home that I can call my own. But right now it’s just very difficult for everyone.”
Sherman said she understands that landlords desperately need the money. She believes that was why she got her notification so quickly. Sherman told Lincoln she owes around $1600 for missing rent in July.
“I didn’t realize it would happen so soon,” Sherman said.
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For local landlord Paxton Baety it’s also been a huge challenge. Beaty said that while he empathizes with tenants, extending the moratoriums again would place an insurmountable financial burden on people like him.
“I was drowning in debt,” Baety said. “I lost $30,000.”
Baety spoke with Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Justin Gray back in May. Baety said he got frustrated about having two tenants who stopped paying rent for a year at two of his six rental properties.
“Mortgage companies don’t give us any leeway,” Baety said. “So, we have to continue paying for somebody else to live.”
Baety said that since May’s story, he was forced to sell one of his properties because he lost so much money.
“They were penalizing people for owning property and awarding people for not paying rent,” Baety said. “And I think, fundamentally, that’s wrong. It’s just because what we’re going through with COVID everyone is struggling and need help.”
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In June, the Supreme Court voted to extend the moratorium through the end of July. But they also made it clear they would block any further extensions without specific authorization from Congress.
At the Capitol, some Democratic lawmakers are calling for President Biden and the Director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to extend the moratoriums after the House of Representatives did not take action Friday to extend the ban.
“We already had a huge housing problem and crisis before COVID. The total cost to society will be far higher if we don’t keep those families in their homes,” said Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity.
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