A year and a half after mass court-ordered evictions forced the District of Columbia to turn an empty elementary school into a shelter for homeless families, such evictions are continuing at the rate of 60 a day, according to U.S. Marshal Herbert Rutherford.
During the summer of 1984, the marshals were faced with a three-year backlog and executed more than 2,300 court-ordered evictions in six weeks. The city was forced to reopen Bundy Elementary School at 4th and O streets NW as a shelter. Six months ago, the school was converted to office space for city workers.
Of the 60 evictions scheduled each day, only about half are actually carried out, Rutherford said. "Sometimes the landlords cancel if they have gotten their back rent, and sometimes we find the apartment empty when we get there," he said.
Rutherford said he had not encountered a backlog of evictions in the last six months until Thursday, when he got 200 orders in one day. "We didn't do any evictions over Christmas," he said. "I guess the landlords showed a little mercy for their tenants at the holiday. But they are making up for it now."
Cold weather will also prompt the marshals to cancel scheduled evictions. If the temperatures remain at or below 25 degrees over a 24-hour period, all the evictions are called off for the day, Rutherford said.