Over 65 organizations and elected leaders are calling for the extension of Allegheny County’s eviction moratorium. On Oct. 27, advocates sent an open letter to Allegheny County President Judge Kim Clark, asking for her help to extend the moratorium.
Elected officials, all Democrats, calling for the extension include state Sen. Lindsey Williams, state Reps. Ed Gainey, Sara Innamorato, and Summer Lee, Allegheny County Councilors Olivia Bennett and Bethany Hallam, and Pittsburgh City Councilors Erika Strassburger and Deb Gross.
“Applying for housing aid and rental relief is a long and arduous process,” said Gross in a press release. “It’s not a process that suddenly stops on October 31st.”
Groups gathered on Oct. 27 in the courtyard of the Allegheny County Courthouse asking for an extension for the eviction moratorium, including residents and local advocacy group Pittsburgh United.
According to county data, 19,355 households have applied for rental assistance during the pandemic, and 11,754 are still awaiting approval and payment as of Oct. 28.
Allegheny County’s eviction moratorium expired briefly on Aug. 1. During a two-day period from Aug. 2-3 without the moratorium, Allegheny County witnessed a spike in eviction fillings and orders of possession, which is when a tenant can be forcibly removed from a property.
Judge Clark requested an extension from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and the moratorium was renewed on Aug. 4. This new moratorium created a temporary stay on most eviction cases until Oct. 31. With that deadline approaching, housing advocates are calling on the moratorium to be extended in hopes of avoiding evictions, especially given that there is still federal rental assistance dollars to be allocated.
During those two days the eviction moratorium lapsed in August, the county saw eviction filings multiplying by nearly five times the daily average for 2021, and order for possessions by more than seven times the daily 2021 average. Through those two days, landlords filed over 150 evictions, and 60 orders for possession were ordered.
Over $47 million of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program has gone towards households rent and utility. According to Abby Rae LaCombe of Rent Help PGH told City Paper in August, the county received $73 million in total to assist renters. Judge Clark did not respond when asked for a comment for this story.
Back in August, LaCombe also told CP that due to the region’s shortage of affordable, subsidized housing and multiple tenants facing possible eviction due to the pandemic, there might not be a lot of places for many Allegheny County residents if evicted.
“We are tired of rallying together every single time a deadline approaches and people’s homes and lives are at risk,” said Teaira Collins, who spoke at the Oct. 27 rally. “Emergencies don’t have deadlines; nor should eviction protections.”