The Municipal Council of Norristown at their Feb. 2 meeting unanimously passed Resolution 21-14 which encourages state and federal lawmakers to pass and extend legislation that will prevent landlord evictions during the pandemic.
“We should not sit on our hands and be quiet about anything that affects all people,” said Council President Derrick Perry. “It is important to get the word out that we do not want anyone evicted out of their place during this pandemic. Everyone is suffering everywhere.”
In late December, Municipal Council approved a rent/mortgage and utility assistance program to help almost 120 low-to-moderate income eligible renters and homeowners through funds allocated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. This program will provide three months’ worth of relief and is expected to launch this month.
Council’s action came days after The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had extended a temporary halt in evictions for people who have experienced financial hardship during the COVID pandemic. The extension lasts until March 31, 2021.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed the extension of the original Sept. 4, 2020 order on January 29 as a public health measure to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus, “within congregate or shared living settings, or through unsheltered homelessness.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a historic threat to our nation’s health. Despite extensive mitigation efforts, COVID-19 continues to spread in America at a concerning pace,
reads a Jan. 29 statement from the CDC. “The pandemic has also exacerbated underlying issues of housing insecurity for many Americans. Keeping people in their homes and out of congregate settings — like shelters — is a key step in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19”.
The order details five criteria to describe a “covered person” who can be exempt from evictions:
- One who has used all of their best efforts to find rental assistance;
- Expects to make less than $99,000 (or $198,000 in joint filing) in 2021;
- Inability to pay all of the rent due to substantial loss of income;
- Making best efforts to make partial payments and;
- If eviction will likely render the individual homeless.
The CDC has declarations available in English and Spanish with the above listed criteria that can be signed by a renter and given to their landlord. These declarations have been made available on the COVID-19 resource page at Norristown.org, and hard copies are available at Municipal Hall.
Eviction due to foreclosure is not to be halted under the CDC’s order.