Maine eviction filings surge as pandemic relief ends, housing gets pricier
Eviction filings in Maine have increased by more than 50% in the first few months of this year.
According to data from Maine's judicial branch, more than 2,000 eviction cases were filed across the state from January through April. That's 55% higher than during the same period last year, and the highest number over that four-month period in at least 15 years.
Chris Marot, the eviction prevention coordinator with Pine Tree Legal Assistance, attributes the trend to rising real estate prices, and to people being evicted from hotels that had operated as pandemic-era shelters.
Marot says an eviction can trigger a wave of short and long-term challenges that may exacerbate barriers to housing.
"I think what folks are going to see is, if you have an eviction judgment, it's going to make it even harder for you to find a place to rent to. Because landlords can be more choosy, because of the housing crunch," Marot says.
While southern Maine has seen some of the highest increases in eviction filings, the number of filings has risen in nearly every county across the state. In the northern part of the state, many more eviction filings are being recorded in Penobscot and Aroostook counties.
Frank D'Allesandro, the legal services director at Maine Equal Justice, points to similar factors. He says the end of pandemic-era rental relief programs has left many low-income tenants overburdened by the cost of housing as real estate prices continue to climb.
"So people in that situation are unstably housed, and will inevitably be evicted for non-payment of rent repeatedly," D'Allesandro says.
D'Allesandro says the trend highlights the need for a statewide rental assistance program for low-income renters.