ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Sheriff Vernon Betts says his office has seen an explosion of evictions since the pandemic.
“We’re getting more and more evictions, and I don’t know exactly why we are getting more and more evictions. We thought that after the pandemic, we would have a whole lot. We didn’t. But now all of a sudden it’s picked up,” Betts said. “I don’t know if it’s people not able to pay something has gone on; you got a lot of people that’s out of work, they can’t pay, and maybe that’s a reason we’re getting more evictions these days.”
Betts says they’re handing out 100 notices a week, and that’s put a big strain on his already short-staffed office.
“It’s affecting me because we have to double the crews that go out there to do those evictions,” he said. “And as I’ve been preaching all over the city for a pretty good while, we are short on manpower, and so, doubling up on those crews is really working those guys real hard, cause we still have all our other papers that we have to get done.”
According to the sheriff, there were not a staggering number of evictions in 2020. There were 706 evictions in 2021. The following year, evictions surged 53% to 1,485. Thus far in 2023, sheriff’s deputies have served 1,498 eviction notices, with more than four months left in the year.
Lt. Neil Hogan, St. Louis Sheriff’s Office, says there are a variety of reasons for the increase:
“The landlords are just fed up. They’ve invested in this property to make money, and during the pandemic, they couldn’t. Now, they’re removing the people who aren’t paying to get in people to pay,” he said.
Hogan says it’s just a sad situation.
“You just got a lot of people just being forced to move out, and they end up losing all their property. Really tough time,” he said.
At this moment, there doesn’t appear to be any let up.
The City of St. Louis has set up a program to help people with legal bills who are facing eviction. The city committed more than $600,000 to the program.