It used to be that, when a landlord wanted to get rid of a non-paying tenant who wouldn’t leave, he or she would just grab a tool box and remove the front and back doors of the house and that usually did the trick.

Today, that’s illegal and the law leans much more in the tenant’s favor – so disputes like that can run on and on, sometimes even lasting a year with no rent being paid.

Guilford County government has decided to continue, at least until June of 2024, a joint program of Guilford County and the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG) that aims to work out problems between landlords and tenants so that renters can stay in their homes and property owners can get paid.

The program  is meant “to address the needs of vulnerable, low-income communities experiencing housing instability and potential evictions.”

On Thursday, Sept. 7, the Board of Commissioners is scheduled to tweak the existing contract that runs to next summer. One change is the addition of language that allows for the mutual termination of the agreement – however, both sides seem committed to the program that’s being funded with American Rescue Plan (ARP) money.  The ARP provided a flood of federal money to state and local governments with the intent that the money be used to address hardships caused by pandemic restrictions.

The cost of running the anti-eviction program is about $725,000 a year. In Guilford County, roughly $2.3 million of ARP funds went to eviction mediation programs, and the remaining balance for that purpose is currently just over $1 million.

In recent years, Guilford County – along with the cities of Greensboro and High Point – has been active in attempting to address the problem of homelessness, and preventing evictions is of course one way to do that.

 The eviction mediation and counseling program uses strategies such as housing and financial counseling to guide tenants through options in order to address non-payment of rent. The program also often connects struggling renters with existing resources in the community.

From November 2022 to June 2023, UNCG has held 102 eviction clinic days in the court system – working with a community partner specializing in legal aid – and, together, they provided more than 2,280 households with eviction mediation, rental assistance, or referrals to other services.

During that seven-month period, there were 6,278 evictions on the county’s court docket on the days the clinic was in court. Of those cases, about 30 percent were dismissed by the court or the landlord – and an additional 18 percent were continued to a later date.

Also during that period, UNC-G has had 258 one-on-one discussions with landlords.