Woman faces eviction despite qualifying for statewide program to help pay rent

The Good Shepherd Center estimates 500 others in our community are in the same situation

Local woman one of many facing evictions

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A woman in New Hanover County is on the verge of being evicted from her home; sadly, she is not alone.

Courtney McCormick worked as a professional server for 17 years but the pandemic hit the restaurant industry hard.

She lost her job when restrictions on restaurants were first imposed in North Carolina in March.

Since then, she has applied for dozens of jobs but cannot find work.

Now, struggling to make ends meet, she said her apartment complex plans to evict her next month, even though she was approved for a program that’s supposed to keep people like McCormick in their homes.

She can’t believe she is facing eviction at Christmastime.

“Christmas is not the same,” she said. “It’s not happy at all. I can’t even believe it’s Christmas.”

Now, she hopes for a Christmas miracle.

She thought it happened when she was approved for a state program to prevent evictions.

Through working with Good Shepherd Center, a Wilmington non-profit organization that helps homeless people and keeps those on the margins in their homes, McCormick was approved for the state’s Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions program or HOPE.

However, McCormick lost hope when she said her apartment complex, Hawthorne at Smith Creek, wouldn’t take the HOPE program funds.

Kyle Abrams, the assistant director at Good Shepherd, explained as part of accepting the money from the program, landlords have to agree to not evict the tenant for the length of their lease.

“Not every landlord wants to work with that,” he said. “It is not an easy situation, agreeing to not evict can open you up to some difficult situations. Not for everybody. A lot of people are just down and out and the money helps them get back up and they are good tenants; they are good people and they are trying their hardest. It’s a difficult time for everybody.”

Abrams said McCormick’s situation is unfortunately not unique in our community.

“I would say about a quarter of the people who we talk to get to that point where the landlord needs to sign a landlord agreement and we get told that the landlord won’t work with them,” he said. “A quarter out of 2,000 applications is a lot.”

Although that is a high number, Abrams said the eviction prevention programs, both at the state and city level, are working, for the most part.

“It does protect a lot of people and there are a lot of people that are still housed because of it but it doesn’t protect everybody and that’s the hard part,” he said.

Now, McCormick thinks she could end up on the streets come mid-January.

“I’ve been on the list for shelters,” she said. “I’m on a waiting list for anything. My dog is an ESA (emotional support) dog. I’m going to choose the streets before…I mean, she’s 11 years old, she’s like my child. I’m not leaving her.” WECT News reached out to Hawthorne at Smith Creek; the property’s manager declined to comment.

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