Cooper signs order preventing evictions for North Carolinians who can’t pay rent

RALEIGH — North Carolina has made another move to help families struggling to pay their rent during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Roy Cooper signed a new executive order on Wednesday to prevent evictions in North Carolina for people who can’t afford their rent. It goes into effect Friday and will remain in place through the end of the year.

The order comes two weeks after the state launched its NC HOPE initiative, which provides renters who are at 80% or less of the median income of a county with up to six months back rent and utility payments. The money is paid directly to landlords and utility companies.

According to the governor, the program received more than 23,000 applications in 14 days. Given the demand for assistance, the governor issued the order to strengthen eviction protections to help families stay in their homes.

“Many families are trying to do the right thing, but this virus has made it difficult," Cooper said. “The result during this global pandemic will be more North Carolinians staying in their homes, more landlords getting paid rent, and fewer utility companies shutting off power.”

According to a report from the National Council of State Housing Agencies, roughly 300,000 to 410,000 households across North Carolina are currently unable to pay rent and an estimated 240,000 eviction filings will be submitted by the end of the year.

Last month, the Center for Disease Control and Protection put a temporary residential eviction moratorium into effect nationwide from Sept. 4 through Dec. 31. The CDC order protects renters from eviction due to not paying rent. However, officials said confusion over who the order protects has caused inconsistent enforcement and unwarranted evictions in some parts of the state.

Cooper’s order requires landlords to make residential tenants aware of their rights under the CDC order. It also requires them to give residents the option to fill out a declaration form before starting any eviction action and protects renters once the form is submitted.

Officials said the order applies to all North Carolinians who meet the CDC’s eligibility criteria, regardless of whether they live in federally-subsidized homes.

People can apply for help by calling 211 or clicking here.