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‘I don’t have anywhere to go’: A look into Louisville’s eviction crisis

Published: Aug. 8, 2021 at 6:33 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Eviction is the reality for 40 million people across the country. Everything they own sitting outside of the place they called home, because they couldn’t pay rent.

“I don’t have anywhere to go, so how can I leave if I don’t have anywhere to go,” Samantha Estrada said. “I have five children from age 8 all the way down to age 4.”

Estrada has lived in a rental house for 2 years. She said throughout the pandemic, she consistently fell behind on rent because she lost her job.

“I even have bills that are delinquent,” Estrada said. “My light bill, I just got it. I have until the 14th to pay or that’s getting shut off.”

This is the snowball of issues facing those who fight to climb out of a hole brought on by the pandemic.

It’s something deputies with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office sees every day.

“It’s easy to blame us, because we are the ones telling people to leave, but we’re just doing a job, it’s nothing personal,” Sgt. John Furlong said.

Furlong oversees evictions for the sheriff’s office. He said the job is tough, but once an eviction is court ordered it’s something that must be done.

“Sometimes it’s very hard for us too, especially when children are involved,” Furlong said. “It becomes really hard. Kids are asking you why they have to leave.”

Pre-pandemic, deputies ran two teams. Each would execute seven evictions per day, which is about 280 evictions per month.

While evictions have slowed during the pandemic, the only time they stopped completely was last year march through July and that’s only because Governor Andy Beshear closed the courts.

Following the lift, the sheriff’s office legally continued evictions.

At all of the evictions WAVE 3 News observed, the tenants were not home. You could tell whoever lived there took what they could, and left everything else behind including furniture, food and in some cases, bedbugs.

Officers said there are cases they find animals dead and alive as people have left them behind.

Even with the recent moratorium extended, the Jefferson County Sherriff’s Office is continuing to evict people for non-payment of rent.

Prior to eviction the sheriff’s office and most landlord try to point the tenant to government assistance.

Melinda Hatcher is a property manager, and says if those who are behind on rent take advantage of current federal funds it will stop evictions.

Those approved get all back rent paid plus three months to the future.

“Go to stopmyeviction.org, there is so much funding for rental assistance and they will help,” Hatcher said. “From what I’ve seen in court, even if you have to move out, they will help you get a new place.”

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office includes the same resource with their eviction paperwork. It’s something they wish more people would take advantage of.

For right now, the sheriff’s office said the only thing that will stop an eviction from happening is if you have a halt eviction form.

It is important to note the form just gives you more time and does not stop the eviction entirely.

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