Allegheny County’s eviction moratorium extension rejected by court | Social Justice | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Allegheny County’s eviction moratorium extension rejected by court

click to enlarge Allegheny County’s eviction moratorium extension rejected by court
CP photo: Jared Wickerham
A drive-by protest demanding rent and mortgage freezes amidst the pandemic in Pittsburgh in May 2020
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied extending Allegheny County’s eviction protections on Monday after Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas President Judge Kim Berkeley Clark requested they extend the county’s local eviction moratorium.

With Allegheny County eviction protections expired as of Oct. 31, over 12,000 applicants who applied could face evictions. County data shows only 39% of applicants received payments as of Nov. 4.

Judge Clark’s request on Oct. 29 asked for Allegheny County’s eviction moratorium to be extended to Nov. 30 to give enough time for applications to receive emergency rental assistance. Clark also said the high ongoing COVID-19 cases in Allegheny County and cited the county’s efforts to distribute more than $80 million in federal rental assistance.

However that request was denied, and local eviction protections have now expired.

In October, landlords in Allegheny County filed 542 cases seeking the evictions of tenants, which is the second-highest total this year, but is only half of what Allegheny County handled before the pandemic. The highest number of eviction cases filed in Allegheny County was 561 cases in August when the eviction moratorium originally expired briefly on Aug. 1.

Monthly eviction cases before the pandemic were regularly double that monthly amount.

Allegheny County’s eviction moratorium expired briefly on Aug. 1 but was renewed on Aug. 4. During those two days, 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.

According to WESA, Magistrate District Judge Richard King, who hears landlord-tenant cases in many south Pittsburgh neighborhoods, said he believes judges will still grant continuances for landlords and renters seeking rental assistance.

While Allegheny’s eviction moratorium expired, the state Supreme Court recently extended Philadelphia’s eviction diversion program. Since May of 2020, Philadelphia’s program has distributed over $200 million to 33,456 households, according to the city's data. However, their eviction program may run out of funds soon.

“It’s a difficult situation when you have a program that provides assistance and support for folks, but you don’t have enough resources to provide the help that’s out there, that’s needed,” said David Thomas, president of the nonprofit managing the Philadelphia program, according to WHYY.