Eviction has a name. It's Debra Thompson.
And Thompson is just like so many of us in these perilous economic times.
She works. Yet she is not a bank so nobody wants to merge with her and take over her debt. She is not a mortgage company so nobody is courting her with bailouts or rescue plans.
Let me tell you what she got. It was brought right to her front door.
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“Order to vacate,” it said. A legal paper signed by a judge. “Failure to pay rent” is the reason. More than $1,500 in back rent is owed.
Her landlord is not a villain.
“My landlord has been very kind,” Thompson said. “And patient.”
Since Oct. 1, York County sheriff's deputies have served at least eight people with legal papers that mean all must get out.
That is just one short of all the people who were evicted in the past two months combined. It's a pace that, if kept up, would be more than double any other month this year.
The streets are mean right now. It's the age of just plain being broke.
In the wee hours Friday morning, the Rev. Ronal King got calls from police about three women, ages 18, 19, and 20, living in cars. King for 30-plus years has run a ministry called Feed The Hungry. But he is more: King is the last call of the helpless. King fed the women at Waffle House, paid for them to stay in a motel.
“These are young women, they need to clean their bodies,” King said. “It is bad out there, brother – $700 billion bailouts don't reach people like this.
These people had jobs. One still has a job but no place to live.”
No more paycheck
Thompson's life is one of work. She is divorced, 39 years old, with three older children and a baby just 3 months old. She worked for years in a clerical job in Columbia making about $19,000 a year. That's maybe 15 grand after taxes. She got $600 a month child support for the older kids.
She moved to Rock Hill to get a fresh start. An apartment for $750 a month.
“I drove to Columbia five days a week to keep that job,” she said. “I was like so many people, living paycheck to paycheck.” Then there was no more paycheck.
She went on maternity leave, the baby needed around-the-clock care after medical problems, so Thompson couldn't go back to work.
Her car was repossessed. She had to get food stamps to feed her children at night. She signed up her children for free lunch at school. A niece who attends Winthrop University helped by watching the baby so Thompson could look for work.
The lights were ready to be cut off. Thompson got help from a United Way referral to an agency that kept the water running and lights on. She went to several charities and agencies looking for help. The rent piled up like a snowdrift.
Family could not help. Her father and mother are both living, but don't work for health reasons. A sister used to help, but no more.
“Foreclosure,” Thompson said. “She's in the same boat as me.” Thompson found work through a staffing agency. The past two weeks she worked two data entry jobs. The first from 8 a.m. to noon, the second from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. She made money.
But not enough.
Things will get worse
Friday was the last day of the morning job. Next week she will have a little less to take home. If she has a home. Because the next paper delivered to her door will probably come from a deputy.
She will get enough time to get the baby bassinet and her few other possessions into the street. Her kids will go out, too. Then the locks will be chained on the doors.
Debra Thompson, who has a job, will stand in the parking lot of the apartment complex with her four children.
All will be homeless.