'At The Landlord's Mercy': Advocates Worry About Wave Of Evictions, Homelessness

Apr 10, 2020

From Texas Standard:

Texas has a statewide suspension on most eviction cases until April 30. Some Texas counties have gone beyond that, but Texas Tenant's Union Executive Director Sandy Rollins worries it's not enough.

“We’re very concerned about a huge wave of evictions and homelessness when the courts reopen for people that were unable to pay April’s rent on time,” Rollins says.

She says her Dallas-based nonprofit is already hearing from many people being threatened with eviction, lockouts, and late fees.

That is in part because Rollins says there is no statewide opportunity to cure a default on rental payment – though that is a right she says is common in almost every other state. The City of Austin did pass an ordinance that provides a 60-day grace period for people to get caught up.

“So that if their unemployment checks aren’t here now, their relief checks aren’t here now, when those things start coming in, hopefully when the economy reopens, they’ll be able to get caught up and not be evicted,” Rollins says.

The City of Dallas is considering a similar move but, so far, Rollins says other tenants in the state are, “Really at the landlord’s mercy.”

Rollins hopes Gov. Greg Abbott will issue more statewide orders protecting renters. For now, she suggests people reach out to their landlords and ask them to work with them.

She also suggests reaching out to social service agencies to try to get help paying the rent. 2-1-1 Texas can connect people to local agencies.

But, Rollins says, that also might not be enough.

“It’s unclear whether or not there’s going to be enough money in these programs to assist everybody who needs to be assisted so we would really also like to see the state, and the city, and the federal government to direct a significant amount of money to help during this crisis,” she says.

Written by Laura Rice.