Coronavirus: Evictions, foreclosures suspended as courts halt non-essential proceedings

Buncombe County Courthouse. (Photo: Cameron Beach)

Mackenzie Wicker, Asheville Citizen Times

ASHEVILLE – A judicial order halting all non-essential court proceedings means evictions and foreclosures will be postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic, Chief District Court Judge Calvin Hill said March 17.

The order, issued by North Carolina Chief Justice Cheri Beasley March 13, directed courts to postpone the cases for at least 30 days. Hill said in a county media briefing that judges in Buncombe have been continuing most proceedings for 60, 90 or 120 days.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency also suspended foreclosures and evictions for homeowners with a single-family mortgage backed by lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for at least 60 days due to the coronavirus national emergency.

Hill said the “situation in the courts, just like everywhere else, is changing literally minute-to-minute.”

“So (March 16), when we got to work there were a few eviction cases that were already in the pipeline,” he said. “Those cases will probably be processed. But as of about 4 o’clock (March 16), we are not processing any eviction matters.”

Impacting the most vulnerable

Denise Lockett is an attorney with the state Legal Aid’s Asheville-based Senior Law Project and handles eviction cases for seniors in Buncombe County.

She said Beasley’s order was “huge for (the Senior Law Project’s) client base,” most of whom are 60 and older.

“They tend to be living on the thinnest of margins,” she said. Many don’t have families or caregivers in the area. They often are dealing with multiple medical issues, she said, which makes them particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

“Especially in the midst of this crisis, having a stable home is central to protecting the public and the individual,” she said.

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