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“Their state of affairs is pressing”; attorneys scramble to help hundreds of Memphians vulnerable to eviction at month’s finish

The federal eviction moratorium expires on January 31st. The tenants at risk are hoping for a short-term extension or infusion of new federal funds.

MEMPHIS, Tenn – “I hope everyone sees this is a real pandemic and a lot of people are injured,” Bluu Davis said.

Davis is among those injured.

The single mother lost her job at the beginning of the COVID crisis. After Davis was unable to negotiate a payment plan at the apartment she lives in, Davis recently heard a knock on her door.

A Shelby County MP served them with an evacuation court hearing.

“I cried at first when the officer first served me because I never expected that in my life and definitely not during a pandemic,” said Davis.

Davis is not alone as the Princeton Eviction Lab estimates more than 10,000 in Memphis could be evicted on January 31 if a recently extended federal moratorium expires.

“I can’t make money, we’re hoping for resources,” said Cindy Ettingoff, CEO of Memphis Legal Services.

Last year the organization helped 1200 Memphis families avoid the eviction through federal CARES funding.

But that money has now dried up and other options are drying up too.

At 5/6 @LocalMemphis; Thousands across the Memphis area are at risk of eviction on Feb.1, unless last minute federal aid or other extension is granted. I divide it up from potentially affected tenants to organizations dealing with last minute backup options before it’s too late.

– Brad Broders (@ Local24Brad) January 15, 2021

“My next first hope would be that there will be another extension of the moratorium that will at least get us to the point where the funds come in,” said Ettingoff.

Ettingoff said this week that the calls she has received from tenants are becoming more and more urgent.

She asks those potentially affected to ask their landlords for a compromise – and for mercy.

“I don’t know if the eviction is of any use to anyone, I mean, from a COVID standpoint, from children trying to be educated in the home standpoint,” Ettingoff said.

Davis, meanwhile, said it had been struck out so far to seek other residential real estate funding.

She is fighting to keep her apartment until the end of the month and is praying for a last-minute extension of the eviction or an infusion of federal funds.

“I just moved there at the beginning of March and just to see everything crashing so quickly it’s painful,” said Davis.

The eviction problem hits Memphis particularly hard as Bluff City is the second poorest subway area.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland announced this week that the city is requesting emergency rental and utility assistance. An answer is expected at the end of the month.

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