Group rallying for cancellation of rent, mortgages & extension of eviction moratorium in Detroit

Posted at 5:41 AM, Sep 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-01 11:28:52-04

(WXYZ) — It’s been a little more than two weeks since Detroit’s eviction moratorium expired, leaving thousands of Detroiters in limbo.

Those pushing for the moratorium to be restored are planning to rally in front of the Spirit of Detroit Tuesday at 8 a.m.

The group Detroit Action says given that the financial burden of the pandemic is still very much present for Detroiters, and that federal unemployment help has yet to kick back in, and will be much less than before.

“I work in a plant industry, and the plant shut down," said Celestine Sanders with Detroit Action. "So it’s like I have to change careers now.”

Celestine Sanders isn’t alone. It’s a worst case scenario no one saw coming. And with the city’s moratorium on evictions no longer in place, she, like many others, is worried about staying in her home.

“I thought I was prepared. And so many people did. But when it actually hit, when COVID hit, and all the changes that came with it — it was like… boom now you’re laid off," said Sanders. "Boom you can’t afford to eat. You can’t afford rent you know.”

She’s part of a group rallying Tuesday morning for that moratorium to be restored. The courts are back open, and while its taking longer than usual, evictions are once again being processed with hearings conducted via Zoom.

“You can’t just not pay the landlords," said Mayor Mike Duggan. "They’ve got their own mortgage payments to make and their own bills.”

Detroit’s landlord compliance ordinance requires homes or apartments to be up to code before any tenant is evicted.

For those facing evictions, the city has resources to help, including and a hotline. Also, if you're overwhelmed with past due rent payments, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority's (MSHDA) Eviction Diversion Program can help you stay in your home.

Sanders thinks more needs to be done.

“We don’t know what to do. And we’re looking to the leaders for extra help," Sanders said. "The money before was like okay I can pay lights and gas. Now, it’s a toss up between rent, car insurance, lights, gas.”

FEMA approved the state’s unemployment insurance agency’s request for an additional $300 weekly to Michiganders still without work. The UIA estimates that’s around $910,000.

Those eligible will be paid those extra benefits retroactive to Aug. 1, but it’s unclear how long that funding will last.

7 Action News reached out to the 36th district court to see where the eviction backlog stands. As of last week, they conducted 105 eviction hearings between landlords and tenants.

There are 110 eviction hearings in the process of being scheduled, and 27 eviction hearing requests filed since the moratorium lifted.

36th District Court Chief Judge McConico released this statement:

“As of last week, the 36th District Court had conducted approximately 105 eviction hearings concerning landlord-tenant cases. Please note that eviction hearings are only a portion of the types of landlord-tenant hearings held in 36th District Court.

To date there are approximately 110 eviction hearings that are in the process of being scheduled. And there have been approximately 27 eviction hearing requests filed with the Court since the conclusion of the Court’s eviction moratorium. However, based on significant delays in the mail, both to and from the Court, we expect to see many more eviction hearing filings.
The 36th District Court understands the perspective of those protesting evictions for residents of the City of Detroit. Our Court has been the most proactive in the State of Michigan to protect our community during this pandemic. We instituted the first, and the longest, moratorium on evictions and recognized early on that this public health crisis would adversely affect our citizens.

The purpose of extending the Court’s moratorium beyond the expiration of the State’s was to allow for more time for newly-instituted resources to get rolling. Now that these programs are operational, any further moratorium would actually hinder those who need access to these services. Without an active case, this aid is not able to be obtained. It is for this reason that there are currently no plans for the Court to reinstate its eviction moratorium.”