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As evictions soar in Allegheny County, Pa., a sense of urgency permeates

Jacob Geanous, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in News & Features

Cetoya Nuell and her five children have been couch surfing for months ever since the single mother was evicted from her federally subsidized first-floor apartment in the dilapidated Hays Manor complex.

Nuell, 46, was locked out of her McKees Rocks apartment in November after losing her job at Mac Discount over the summer and accumulating thousands of dollars in back rent she owed the Allegheny County Housing Authority — which manages the rundown apartment building the county hopes to demolish, pending approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Nuell lived in the apartment for a decade before her eviction but, since January, has been staying with a friend in Beltzhoover with her children, ages 17, 16, 13, 9, and 4.

"Me and my kids are practically still homeless," Nuell said. "I didn't even have the money to appeal (the eviction) because I was unemployed."

Nuell and her family are not alone.

The number of Pittsburgh-area residents struggling to make rent spiked in the wake of COVID-19 as county landlords filed evictions last year claiming historic amounts in back rent.

 

The number of evictions filed in the county jumped nearly 20% last year, from 11,115 in 2022 to at least 13,225 in 2023 — a return to the annual number of evictions the county saw in the years leading up to the pandemic, which was between 13,000 and 14,000 on average, according to eviction data compiled by the Create Lab at Carnegie Mellon and county data.

Although the total number of eviction cases filed in the county has reached, but not exceeded, pre-pandemic levels, the amount of money landlords are claiming is owed to them each month is the highest in more than a decade.

Allegheny County landlords claimed a combined average of $2.8 million owed each month through eviction filings last year — over $1 million more than the average amount of $1.64 claimed each month between 2012 and 2020, according to county data.

While evictions are experiencing a rebound, many renters have been able to make ends meet with the help of millions in assistance that has been used as a stopgap.

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