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Pittsburgh groups team up, head straight to judge to ensure temporary eviction ban is in place

PITTSBURGH — This is hope for many families in our area.

With many people still struggling to pay bills and make ends meet during the pandemic, there’s relief in sight — at least temporarily. The nationwide eviction moratorium is in place until October.

>>> RELATED STORY: New eviction ban issued by CDC for most of U.S., including Pittsburgh

“During the pandemic is not the time to be out on the street,” said Carl Redwood, director of the Pittsburgh Black Worker Center. “There was a surge of new eviction cases coming forward.”

On Monday, a day after the federal eviction moratorium ended, court filings to evict people increased 420%.

“The lower-income families are the ones affected the most, and there’s a concentration of Black families within that category. Black workers tend to face high unemployment and are concentrated in low-wage work,” Redwood said.

Despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention putting a halt on evictions on Tuesday in areas with substantial or high community transmission of COVID-19, the moratorium has to be implemented locally.

So several Pittsburgh groups, including Redwood’s, teamed up and went straight to a head judge in Allegheny County.

“What we’re asking for in the petition is for Judge Kim Clark to ask for permission from the Pa. Supreme Court to be able to enforce the moratorium,” Redwood said.

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Clark, the Common Pleas Court’s president judge, went to the state Supreme Court, and an eviction moratorium is expected to be approved and enacted next week, giving families some peace of mind they’ll be able to stay in their homes as COVID-19 cases climb.

“To make sure we protect the rights of those who possibly face eviction. Also, so we can help landlords. There are funds available to pay peoples’ rent whose rent is behind,” Redwood said.

Just last night, lawyers representing a group of landlords and real estate companies filed a lawsuit in Washington to try to stop the CDC’s eviction moratorium, arguing it’s a delay tactic, and even the president said it might not pass legal muster.

As it stands, the CDC’s new eviction moratorium is in effect until Oct. 3.

Notably, funding is available through the emergency rental assistance program.

“Over 98% of people who apply for help have payments going directly to their landlords. They can pay back rent going back to January actually or even beyond that,” Redwood said.