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Allegheny County could face housing crisis after federal eviction ban ends, organization offers help

PITTSBURGH — Now that the federal eviction ban has been lifted, evictions in Allegheny County are increasing, sending our area into a housing crisis.

>>RELATED HEADLINE: Landlords, tenants fill courts as eviction moratorium ends

Rental assistance is available in light of the expiration of the eviction moratorium that was put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The number of eviction filings in Allegheny County was already high before the pandemic. With the federal eviction ban now lifted, hundreds and thousands of families are afraid of losing their homes.

There are a lot of people who’ve managed to get through the pandemic without losing their home, but it’s been a challenge for Lisa Nelson.

“I think people should have more time because people are struggling out there. People lost their jobs,” Nelson said. “It’s been difficult trying to catch up on the bills,” explained Nelson.

Thankfully, Nelson has been able to keep a roof over her head, but there are thousands who are left wondering if they will have a home now that the federal eviction ban has expired.

On Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Budget and Policy Center outlined new data on the housing crisis and what’s being done to address it.

“This expiration just this past weekend presents a risk for a surge of eviction filings. While Pittsburgh residents continue to be covered by the city moratorium this passage was not reflected in a decrease of eviction filings.”

According to the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, the number of new landlord-tenant actions filings are increasing. On Monday, 73 were filed. That is almost five times the daily filing average for Allegheny County this year.

Nearly 3,000 eviction cases have been filed in the county so far this year. That number was slightly higher last year. When it comes to rental assistance, the Pittsburgh Budget and Policy Center outlined the need for more.

Between March and July of this year, nearly 12,000 people applied for rental assistance in Allegheny County, but only a small percent have received aid so far.

“Applicants applying for rental assistance are disproportionately female. About 71 percent are applying for rental assistance.”

The Biden administration will announce a new 60-day eviction moratorium that would protect areas where 90% of the U.S. population lives, according to three people familiar with the plans who insisted on anonymity to discuss the forthcoming announcement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified a legal authority for a new and different moratorium that would be for areas with high and substantial increases in COVID-19 infections.

The level of fear thousands of families are experiencing right now is very real, and the Light of Life Rescue Mission is seeing the need firsthand.

“We’ve already seen the increase of people inquiring about what their options are,” explained Executive Director Jerrel T. Gilliam. “People right now, the calls that we are getting are just fear.”

It’s a reality many families hoped they wouldn’t have to face.

Light of Life Rescue Mission and a number of other organizations, including Rent Help Pittsburgh, are busy pulling together resources for those who need it.

“We are reaching out to the government, to everyone who can help, to say, ‘Let’s try to find solutions that help the landlords as well as the tenants to be able to stay in their homes,’” explained Gilliam.

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