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April rent is due, what do you do if your job shut down and you can’t pay?

BY STEPHANIE BUNAO | JOHN D. SIMMONS

Many renters in the Triangle are having to face new challenges as stay-at-home orders declare their job nonessential and their income flow is suddenly stopped.

Gov. Roy Cooper alleviated some of the stress of bills Tuesday with an executive order barring utility companies from disconnecting people who are unable to pay for 60 days. The order covers electric, gas, water and wastewater service.

The order gives customers six months to pay bills, stops companies from adding late fees and interest to bills that aren’t paid, and encourages phone, cable and internet companies to follow suit.

But even then, for most people rent payments are still due April 1.

Many businesses that can’t work remotely were shut down in Wake and Durham counties, leaving thousands jobless. In Raleigh alone, there are around 60,000 food preparation and serving workers and 22,000 retail workers who make median hourly wages of $9.70 and $11.41, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Now many of them may have no source of income or are waiting on unemployment benefits.

Meanwhile, the average rent in Raleigh and Durham has steadily increased over the past decade. A one-bedroom apartment now costs 1,020 in Raleigh and $950 in Durham, ranking 53rd and 58th most expensive rents in America in a recent Zumper report.

While eviction hearings are halted at least until April 12, by an order from N.C. Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, that doesn’t mean evictions won’t eventually happen for folks who can’t pay their rent now or in future months.

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