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South Carolina could see a surge in evictions without federal moratorium

Rent for many South Carolinians is due on Aug. 1.
Rent for many South Carolinians is due on Aug. 1.(WIS)
Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 11:01 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Rent for many South Carolinians is due on Aug. 1.

As the federal moratorium on evictions expires on Friday, many people in our state could be forced out onto the streets in the next month.

On top of losing renters’ protection, some Americans also lost the $600 weekly payments from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program and, with rent due this weekend, we could soon see a major spike in evictions across the state.

“Nobody likes owing people money and to think that I could lose my home,” said Brent Mercado who was furloughed along with his wife back in April.

The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation expired on July 25 along with the federal moratorium on evictions. This means eviction notices can once again be sent out and the actual evictions can begin on August 24.

“This has just made a bad situation 10 times worse,” said Sue Berkowitz with the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Group.

With Congress still in the process of debating a new relief plan, many people could be left unprotected.

“We are asking Democrats to work with us to find a solution that will temporarily stop evictions,” said President Donald Trump. “We do not want people who have lost their jobs due to the virus to be evicted from their homes, apartments. We don’t want that to happen.”

In the meantime, the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Group says there are a few things renters should be doing to protect themselves.

“Talk to the landlord about someway you can work this out. The other thing is to contact your 211 or the United Way. See what programs are out there,” said Berkowitz.

Part of that strategy worked well for Mercado, who was worried about paying his bills when he went on unemployment.

“The responsible thing was to reach out to my landlord and say, ‘Hey, this is a possibility and I need to know what your expectations are because I’m going to do everything in my power to meet those expectations and be responsible,’” explained Mercado.

Still, many other renters across the country and in South Carolina are left to figure out ways to keep a roof over their heads.

The Senate did release its next coronavirus stimulus package Monday. However, that plan did not include an extension of the federal eviction moratorium

As Congress debates that new plan, almost 24 million Americans have little or no confidence that they can pay next month’s rent, according to the most recent survey from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Copyright 2020 WIS. All rights reserved.

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