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5 Things To Know: Gov. Cooper Extends NC Eviction Moratorium

...and four more stories from Dec. 27, 2020-Jan. 2, 2021

eviction moratorium
Housing advocates delivered eviction notices to members of the NCGA in September before the NC eviction moratorium. (Photo by Jessica Moreno/TORC)

Gov. Cooper Extends NC Eviction Moratorium

At a press conference on Wednesday, Gov. Roy Cooper announced the signing of Executive Order 184, extending the NC eviction moratorium through Jan. 31. The order clarifies and expands the federal eviction moratorium, which was already extended by Congress until Jan. 31. As with the previous orders, the moratorium does not automatically apply to all evictions, only those caused directly by the COVID-19 pandemic. Tenants who meet certain requirements must file an affidavit with their property owner to be considered protected under the moratorium.

The order also extends protections for individuals applying for assistance through the state’s Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (HOPE) Program. This program is designed to assist renters who are behind on their bills by providing rent and utility payments directly to landlords and utility companies. Over 21,000 renters have been notified that they will receive rent or utility payment help, with $37.4 million in award notices having already been issued, according to Gov. Cooper’s office. 

In North Carolina, an estimated 485,000 adults in rental housing reported that they are not caught up on rent and nearly 3 million adults reported difficulty in covering usual household expenses, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

While those are the people the moratorium was designed to protect, or at least delay their troubles, even those who play by the rules of the NC eviction moratorium are sometimes forced out. In November, Legal Aid of North Carolina filed suit in Wake County Superior Court against three officials there who have allegedly broke the NC eviction moratorium by continuing to issue eviction orders even in cases where a CDC declaration was on file.


County and State Update COVID-19 Vaccination Plans

On Wednesday, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) announced it had updated its vaccination plan to align with new federal recommendations issued last week. The changes aim to simplify the vaccine process and build upon the original plan to first protect health care workers caring for patients with COVID-19, people who are at the highest risk of being hospitalized or dying, and those at high risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Mecklenburg COVID-19
Vaccinations of all residents 75 years old or older are expected to start next week. (Photo courtesy of Atrium Health)

Because vaccine supplies are currently limited, states must make the vaccines available in phases. On Dec. 22, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices released updated interim vaccine prioritization recommendations for the next phases of vaccinations.

North Carolina’s updated plan is as follows:

Phase 1a (current phase): Health-care workers fighting COVID-19 and long-term-care staff and residents. 

  • Hospitals and local health departments are vaccinating health-care workers caring for and working directly with patients with COVID-19 and those giving vaccines. In addition, the federal government is vaccinating residents and staff at long-term-care facilities such as nursing homes. 

Phase 1b (starting next week): Adults 75 years or older and frontline essential workers.

Phase 1b will roll out in groups:

  • Group 1: Anyone 75 years or older regardless of medical condition or living situation. People do not have to have a chronic health condition.
  • Group 2: Health-care and frontline essential workers who are 50 years old or older.
  • Group 3: All other patient-facing direct health-care workers not vaccinated in Phase 1a and frontline essential workers of any age. There is no requirement to have certain qualifying chronic conditions. Patient-facing direct health care workers includes any paid or unpaid health-care workers with direct patient contact (not just COVID-19 patients). The CDC defines frontline essential workers as first-responders (firefighters, police), education (child care, teachers, support staff), manufacturing, corrections officers, public transit, grocery store, food and agriculture, and U.S. postal workers.

Once plans for distribution of the vaccine to residents over the age of 75 have been completed, a detailed announcement is expected early next week.


First Candidate Throws Hat Into City Council Race

Local activist and political organizer Kendrick Cunningham did not waste any time in taking 2021 by the horns, as he announced on New Year’s Day that he will run for Charlotte City Council this year, the first non-incumbent to officially enter the race. Cunningham, a leader with the Young Democrats of Mecklenburg County (along with the statewide and countrywide chapters), will run for the District 3 seat, which has been held by Victoria Watlington since December 2019. 

 
In an email to supporters on Friday, Cunningham announced his candidacy and introduced a video in which he expressed his wish to work on issues such as displacement and homelessness. He states that he has been urging current city council members to ban source-of-income discrimination. In the email announcement and the video, Cunningham holds up his personal relationship with President-elect Joe Biden, whom he has spoken alongside of at events during the 2020 presidential campaign. To learn more about Cunningham, listen to Episode 27 of our Nooze Hounds podcast, in which he spoke about the 2020 elections, protests and more. And if you really want a glimpse into his headspace, check out his mixtape On My Mental


CMPD Animal Care & Control Hits 90% Milestone

CMPD Animal Care & Control announced Thursday that the agency’s shelter reached its end-of-year goal to have a 90% save rate, meaning that nine out of every 10 animals that go into the shelter are either reclaimed by owners, find new forever homes or are claimed by a rescue organization. The shelter has never in its history had such a high save rate. 

Staff at the shelter held a #CLT90 campaign on social media, and former WBTV reporter Kristen Hampton even camped out in front of the shelter to raise awareness for the efforts. She said she did so to celebrate the staff members whom she has watched implement different initiatives, programs, outreach events, and educational practices over the years to reach their 90% goal. And while finding more animals forever homes was always the main mission, Hampton said her day-and-a-half camping “stunt” was about more than that. 

“It also means the public gets a better idea of exactly what happens at AC&C,” she told Queen City Nerve. “So many people still hold onto the antiquated notion that any animal that goes into a municipal shelter gets ‘put to sleep’ after a three-day hold. That’s just not the truth, and it’s really important to me to help people understand that. The folks at AC&C are truly committed to pulling out all the stops to keep every animal alive — and that’s not some sweet thing to say to make things sound pretty, it’s the damned truth.” 


Charlotte Ties Record for Deadliest Year by Homicide Total

As of New Year’s Day, the total number of homicides reported by CMPD was at 122 for all of 2020, matching 1993 as the deadliest year on record. However, it’s important to note that the population has nearly doubled in that time, meaning the murder rate per capita is only about half what it was 27 years ago. 

At a press conference on Wednesday, Lt. Bryan Crum with CMPD said he had no explanation for the spike in violent crime as compared to recent years, though he said he has seen many young people resorting to gun violence to solve what should be considered petty disputes. Since 2018, 60% of violent crime suspects have been in the 18-24 age bracket, according to CMPD. 

 

In a tweet on Tuesday, CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings made a similar point. 

“The number of homicides this year is devastating and unfortunate,” Jennings wrote. “Some people are quick to resort to deadly force as a method to solving their problems.” 

On our latest episode of Nooze Hounds, Lucille Puckett, founder of Take Back Our H.O.O.D.S. who often visits homicide scenes and supports the families of victims and suspects alike, discussed the year’s totals at length. 

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