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On the Brink of Lifted Eviction Protections, South Carolina Housing Advocates Still Have Questions

Scott Morgan
South Carolina Public Radio
What is to become of 1.45 million South Carolina renters as of Sunday, Aug. 1? The ones in housing overseen by federal programs face the end of the last protections keeping them from being evicted. While most will likely remain housed, the state that has led the nation in evictions this whole century could see many people put out of their residences.
  • This story is part of South Carolina Public Radio's continuing coverage of the eviction crisis in the Palmetto State. For additional stories, click HERE.

Federal eviction protections are due to end at the end of this week. A month ago, that was also true – right up until the day before they were set to expire. A last-minute extension gave renters another month of reprieve – and gave landlords another month of frustration.

Another extension isn’t likely. Protections against eviction were set up to keep renters who were affected financially by the coronavirus pandemic from losing their homes.

But even as an aggressive resurgence of COVID-19 tears through every state – South Carolina went from 52 cases one day at the end of June to more than 1,200 last Friday – most businesses and public venues are most of the way back to normal operations.

So many of the hardships that choked businesses over the past year no longer exist, meaning the longer eviction protections stay in effect, the more the original reasons for keeping them dry up.

But even if we do get another extension, the CDC’s moratorium has to end sometime. Housing advocates worry that funds issued through programs like SC Stay Plus – funds designed to get property owners the rent money they’ve not been able to collect for a year-and-a-half – will not get to landlords in time to stave off a wave of evictions for unpaid rent (the most common reason for eviction filings).

At the heart of all this is what most housing advocates generally see as an epic failure to plan for any kind of exit from eviction protections. The moratorium was put in place without going through any federal or state legislative process, and it will be revoked in the absence of the legislative process as well.

But as with anything involving thousands of South Carolina renters, there’s nuance to be considered.

Scott Morgan is the Upstate multimedia reporter for South Carolina Public Radio, based in Rock Hill. He cut his teeth as a newspaper reporter and editor in New Jersey before finding a home in public radio in Texas. Scott joined South Carolina Public Radio in March of 2019. His work has appeared in numerous national and regional publications as well as on NPR and MSNBC. He's won numerous state, regional, and national awards for his work including a national Edward R. Murrow.