There were an estimated 2,200 evictions in Buncombe County last year, according to reporting from The Asheville Citizen-Times. This statistic has many wondering: With Asheville’s booming economy and the historically low unemployment rate, why are its residents struggling to pay rent?
The Asheville-based nonprofit Pisgah Legal Services looked into the numbers and discovered that out of 2,200 evictions filed in 2016, 1,300 evictions were granted leaving about 3,000 people displaced. Many of their clients are single moms juggling work, children, and family while trying to pay rent, childcare and basic living expenses. Through working one-on-one with clients, the nonprofit identified one of the central barriers to tenants keeping a roof over their heads: landlords seeking an eviction can complete the process in 20 days, which leaves little time for tenants to find a new home and secure the needed move-in costs. To curb this problem, they created the Tenant Eviction Response program, which offers on-the-spot assistance for those at eviction court in Buncombe County. Host Frank Stasio talks about the program and Buncombe County’s housing crisis with Robin Merrell, managing attorney at Pisgah Legal Services, which provides free representation to low-income families in need of civil legal services.