HOUSTON - With so many renters facing eviction now that the CDC eviction moratorium has been thrown out, new efforts are being made to keep renters in their homes.
Harris County Precinct One Constable Alan Rosen says his deputies had to serve 70 evictions in August, and expect many more.
He says it will use funds from the $267,000 the Harris County Constable Foundation raised through a GoFundMe page.
The program will provide the required one month’s rent into the registry of the court in order to appeal an eviction, and renters can get free legal help.
"No one else is doing this. This is a hole in our safety net," said Eric Kwartler with South Texas College of Law. "This amount that has to be paid, we see clients all the time that end up having to be served by the constable because they can’t come up with this one month’s rent."
Constable Rosen says Precinct One has also used some of the funds to go into neighborhoods to educate renters about rental assistance and to hold free legal clinics.
"People would show up at clinics in tears and once they get that advice provided … they left with a plan. They left with hope and that’s what this is about," said Rosen.
Rosen said the biggest problem is that renters don’t know there is rental assistance and free legal help available.
Precinct One is holding free legal clinics on September 9 in Pasadena and September 10 in Fifth Ward.
The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America says it is going to help renters access the $47 billion in federal rental assistance to prevent evictions.
NACA is a nationwide, HUD-approved housing counseling agency that helped prevent hundreds of thousands of lower-income homeowners from losing their homes during the mortgage crisis and recession in 2008.
This time, tenants can contact NACA through its website. It will assign an Economic Justice Advocate to help tenants apply for rental assistance and will advocate for them with providers and landlords to help get it approved and paid.
"It’s more than just pushing paper. It’s the advocacy to make sure it gets done, where you don’t take No for an answer. Because taking ‘no’ for an answer means someone is going to be homeless and on the streets and that’s no acceptable in America," said Bruce Marks, NACA CEO.
Tenants can contact NACA through this link.