MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As thousands of people face the possibility of eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic, Shelby County government and the City of Memphis said there is some help available.
They announced an eviction settlement fund Tuesday afternoon after coronavirus upended livelihoods and forced thousands to go without work.
“Over the past couple of weeks, we have all heard the news about the nearly 9,000 evictions that would await the courts as they have opened after a three-month closure,” Dorcas Young Griffin, Shelby County’s director for community services, said.
The possibility of thousands of evictions facing people in Shelby County is something WREG has been reporting for months.
Griffin said there is help on the horizon with the $2 million in the Eviction Settlement Fund.
The majority of funds came from the CARES Act, but Griffin said there are some donations from other local groups as well as the ability to fundraise.
Griffin acknowledged many people involved in current evictions have been dealt the economic blow of job loss due to the coronavirus or have in some way experienced the effects of actually getting the virus.
“With access to direct legal services so that we can negotiate with property owners to settle their debt,” Griffin said. “Through the use of recently allocated CARES Act dollars, funding will be made available to directly pay negotiated settlements.”
Those who are helped will also be linked to long-term financial counseling and social services.
Griffin said there’s also help for those struggling with mortgages or car payments.
“Historically, Shelby County has run a rent and mortgage assistance program,” Griffin said. “Many people access that each year prior to COVID if they are having difficulty with their rent, with their mortgage.”