Dear Judge Evans,
We are writing to you as a group of Durham based organizations and individuals who are deeply concerned with the safety, health, and wellness of Durham residents facing eviction from their homes. We are aware of Chief Justice Cheri Beasley’s recent order for a continuance of civil cases for the next 30 days as a precaution against the COVID-19 virus. It is our understanding that local judges are given discretion to decide whether eviction proceedings will be included in that continuance. For a few critical reasons, which we will outline below, we urge you to place a continuance on all evictions for at least the next 30 days.
First, because the purpose of Chief Justice Beasley’s order was to protect the public health in light of coronavirus, holding eviction proceedings amidst the current crisis contradicts guidance and mandates coming from all levels of government in our state. As you are aware, eviction proceedings are often crowded events, in large part because so many of our residents increasingly face housing insecurity. Mandating residents’ presence to defend against evictions places an unjust risk on all involved in these proceedings.
Second, as evictions are strongly linked to homelessness, we are alarmed at the possibility of placing more of our beloved community members into precarious living conditions on our streets. Our city’s homeless and housing insecure population has grown vastly over the last decade, and they are unsurprisingly some of the most vulnerable to this current public health crisis. Further, the economic impacts of coronavirus are likely to exacerbate the challenge of maintaining living wage jobs and paying increasing rents. To be clear, job insecurity, evictions and homelessness have always been devastating phenomena in our city, with vast public health, social, and economic consequences. Under our current conditions, these impacts are further compounded and have the potential to cause untold harms throughout our city and broader region.
Third, though we believe evictions are never in the real interest of justice, to move forward with these proceedings at this time would be particularly egregious and contrary to the spirit of community uplift Durham has been building for at least the past decade. Thank you for your consideration. We sincerely hope that you will join peer counties in mitigating the harm of this health crisis by including evictions in stay of civil cases for at least the next 30 days.
- Bull City Community Schools Partnership
- BYP100 – Durham
- Carolina Jews for Justice
- Community Alliance for Public Education
- Communities in Partnership
- Durham Association of Educators
- Democratic Socialists of America – Durham
- Democratic Socialists of America – NC Piedmont
- Durham Workers Assembly
- Emancipate NC
- Industrial Workers of the World
- NC Community Bail Fund of Durham
- People’s Alliance
- Raise Up/Fight for $15
- Sanctuary Beyond Walls
- Showing Up for Racial Justice – Triangle
- Southerners on New Ground
- Southern Vision Alliance