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Coronavirus outbreak leads to Detroit eviction moratorium

A home in Detroit.
Jodi Westrick
Michigan Radio

In yet another unprecedented step, Detroit has put a moratorium on evictions during the coronavirus oubreak.

36th District Court Chief Judge William McConico issued the order "effective immediately" on Monday.

"This is a difficult period for our entire community, and in an effort to avoid any additional hardship for those affected, it is important that we halt residential evictions at this time," McConico said in a statement. "As everyone is encouraged to practice social distancing, and, if applicable, self-quarantine during this period, it would be unwise and mean-spirited to remove people from their homes until this threat has passed."

A coalition of legal organizations and community groups had called for a moratorium earlier on Monday. They requested that the moratorium extend for 30 days past when the State of Michigan's emergency declaration expires, or 30 days after Detroit public schools resume classes, whichever is later. They also called for tenants who fall behind on rent during the state of emergency to be given 45 days after its expiration to pay rent before facing eviction.

"Detroit residents are already losing income due to illness and the closure of workplaces. The closure of public schools means that families across the city will now struggle to find ways to feed and care for their children during the day," the groups said in a statement. "The closure of work sites means these same families will also face an immediate loss of crucial income. It is an entirely foreseeable and understandable consequence that as a result of this crisis, many Detroiters will struggle to make their next rent payment. They should not then face eviction in the midst or in the immediate aftermath of a pandemic."

For the past several years, more than 30,000 annual evictions have been filed in the 36th district court.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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