City eviction filings compared to historic averages during the CDC moratorium | Source: Eviction Lab

The Centers for Disease Control’s federal eviction moratorium helped to prevent 1.55 million eviction filings in the United States, according to estimates by Eviction Lab researchers based on an analysis over the 11-month moratorium period. In Charleston, evictions are down dramatically compared to the period before the pandemic.

The analysis came after the group’s Eviction Tracking System logged more than 500,000 eviction filings during the pandemic in the 6 states and 31 cities it tracks. Even during the moratorium, between Sept. 4, 2020, and July 31, 2021, 368,398 eviction filings were reported, according to the analysis.

In Charleston County, evictions were down 62.8% compared to the county’s historic average. North Charleston boasted one of the highest eviction rates in the nation in Eviction Lab’s 2016 analysis.

Source: Eviction Lab

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal eviction moratorium in late August, a month ahead of its expiration in early October. Evictions had been largely stalled since the onset of the pandemic except for a short period over the summer. Rental assistance is available, experts say, but money is slow to come for those in need of immediate help.

The eviction shuffle has put a renewed sense of urgency on every facet of the system, according to Charleston Pro Bono attorney Nicole Paluzzi

“We’re seeing increases across the board — everyone who has any sort of stake in housing, supporting housing, increasing inventory, anything, everybody is seeing an increase,” Paluzzi told the City Paper this week. “It’s almost all related to eviction for nonpayment of rent or rental assistance.”

“The moratorium extended important protections to tenants, but it was far from comprehensive,” the analysis reads. “Tenants were required to provide a declaration of qualification to their landlords, who could continue to file eviction cases and challenge tenant eligibility in court.”

But still, that number is dramatically lower than previous years without similar protections. The eviction filing rate in monitored areas averages about 8.1% over that time period, compared to 3.8% with the moratorium in place.

In total, Eviction Lab estimates the combined efforts of federal, state and local policies helped to prevent at leasts 2.45 million eviction filings sine the onset of the pandemic in March 2020.