Renters worry about possible evictions during COVID-19 pandemic

Many workers recently laid off from work due to the coronavirus pandemic are stuck at home wondering how they will pay for rent.

Some are concerned about eventually being evicted from their homes.

Bartender Cameron Bonner told FOX13 he usually pays for rent by bartending at Tin Roof, but the bar is closed due to the coronavirus. He also works at Alchemy in Cooper Young.

“There will be some bartenders that only have their St. Patty's Day money to move forward with,” he said.

Bonner told FOX13 Now he's worried about how he will pay for rent in the future.

“Some people could say you should be prepared for this, but given the bartender lifestyle we could spend $40 today because tomorrow we gonna make two,” he said.

Bonner said his landlord is understanding, but he is worried things could change if businesses remain closed.

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FOX13 spoke to Paul Young, the Director of Housing and Community Development for the City of Memphis.

He said right now the courts are closed until March 30, so people won't be evicted.

“We know a lot of people are having to take off from work, self-isolate, and quarantine and make sure those families are able to have a place to live,” Young said.

Young told FOX13, unfortunately, he’s heard stories about some people who were asked to leave their rental homes or apartments, but he said that is not legal.

“There is a legal process for evictions, and the landlord must go through that legal process to go through the courts to evict someone,” he said.

Young said city and county leaders will work on figuring out what to do moving forward to help people who can’t pay rent.

Bonner said he hopes everything gets back to normal soon.

“I'll have to see where God leads me, honestly. He is the force in my life. He is who I have my faith and dependence on,” he said.

Young said the city hopes to have a plan in place by next week to protect renters. He said if you are illegally evicted from your home, you should call the Memphis Area Legal Services office at (901) 523-8822 or Toll-Free (866) 361-9001.