Last week the Durham Housing Authority (DHA) announced changes to their eviction process that aim to reduce DHA’s eviction numbers. According to Legal Aid of North Carolina, DHA evicts a number of people that is disproportionate to its size as compared with other housing authorities. For example, the Raleigh Housing Authority filed three evictions in June, while DHA filed 115. DHA’s evictions also make up over 10% of all evictions in Durham even though DHA’s units are 3% of all rentals in Durham.
Last year, the North Carolina Housing Coalition mapped the number of eviction filings in each county in North Carolina compared to the number of cost-burdened renters. The goal was to get a better sense of the likelihood a household might see an eviction filing if they were already cost-burdened. In Durham, one-third of all cost-burdened renters saw an eviction filing. You can see the results of that research for your county in our county profiles of affordable housing need.
The changes in DHA’s eviction procedures will give tenants more transparency of the process and strategies to avoid eviction. DHA will provide tenants that are late with rental payments notification of their rights under their lease, along with information on payment arrangements, hardship exemptions, legal assistance and other resources.
DHA is also implementing an Eviction Prevention Pilot program to assist tenants on the verge of eviction in identifying and mitigating the long-term, deeper rooted causes for financial instability. The program will provide third-party financial guidance to tenants, suspend court filings and help tenants remove prior legal actions from their records.
Tenants rights advocates and legal services attorneys are pleased to see the announced changes. The policy change is a testament to the work of these dedicated advocates and attorneys. Legal Aid plans on monitoring DHA’s progress to evaluate the effectiveness and will continue to assist Durham area tenants facing eviction through their Eviction Diversion Program.