Eviction court in Fayette County is going virtual. Mass evictions have been ongoing for months. They will only get worse. Since September 14, there have been 591 eviction hearings in Fayette County. The majority of these cases resulted in eviction, because the tenant did not make it to court.
Thanks to the CDC’s moratorium, some of the cases where tenants did show up have been delayed until January. Two months out, there are over 100 eviction hearings in January. The docket has gotten so full that cases are already being scheduled for February. Moving cases to 2021 does not stop evictions. It just delays them, and causes many tenants to rack up more debt.
As of Monday October 26, only 235 households in Fayette County have received rental assistance from either the city or state fund. The state fund, which had $15m in it, is now closed to new applications.
The city fund does not have enough money in it. The city’s distributions currently average $1,778.01 per household. With around $2m in the fund, we can expect the city fund to serve under 1,500 people. But the city has already received over 3,000 intakes.*
Taking eviction court virtual is a public health improvement. But the correct public health, economic, and moral decision is to stop eviction court altogether and prevent mass evictions. COVID-19 is worse than ever. If the CDC and our Governor both deemed it proper to stop evictions months ago, then they certainly should now.
We need a full eviction moratorium that extends beyond the end of 2020. It is within the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council’s powers to enact an eviction moratorium. Many other city councils have done it, and beaten the inevitable and frivolous lawsuits landlords threw at them.
And we need to #CancelRent, within the power of Governor Beshear.
Re-enact a full eviction moratorium.
Cancel rent. *Data from a presentation by Lexington Homelessness Prevention & Intervention during a public meeting of the Advocacy, Issues, and Programs subcommittee this week.