HOUSTON - Eviction filings are on the rise in Harris County since the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the CDC eviction moratorium nearly a month ago, according to data from January Advisors.
However, the Houston-Harris County Emergency Rental Assistance program just received another $86 million, and efforts are succeeding at preventing actual evictions.
According to eviction case data from January Advisors, 2802 evictions have been filed in Harris County courts since the CDC moratorium ended August 26.
That’s about a 28% increase over the roughly 2183 average cases filed a month since the first CDC moratorium began a year ago.
"They have been filing them left and right," said attorney Sarah Sue Doezema with the Earl Carl Institute. "I spoke with one landlord the other day who said she filed 40 evictions for her property in one day."
While eviction filings are up across Harris County, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 7, Place 1, Wanda Adams says she's seeing many cases get dismissed because renters are getting rental assistance before their court date.
"We had some dockets that appealed and would say, 'Judge, we’re dismissing these cases, and it's usually about six or seven or eight of them,'" explained Adams. "And I may ask them why and they say because the defendant received rental assistance."
Like in many JP courts, organizations such as the Earl Carl Institute and The Alliance help tenants with legal aid, job search assistance, and help to apply for utility aid and up to 15 months of rent relief.
"It helps the landlords get the rent money and helps the tenants stay so they don’t have themselves and their kids on the streets without help," said Doezema.
"We had to educate them to let them know that rental assistance is still available through Harris County or through the Texas Eviction Diversion program," added Adams.
Adams says most landlords that appear in her court accept the programs. She says tenants behind on rent should communicate right away with their landlords.
"Don't run from the landlord. Call them and let them know you’ve fallen into some financial situation," said Adams. "Don’t’ wait until your 30 days are up."
The Houston-Harris County Emergency Rental Assistance Program is being refortified with an additional $86 million from the U.S. Treasury, one of the first programs to receive the second round of funding due to its quick dissemination of the first round.
A Rent and Resource Fair is being held on Saturday, Sept 25 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Harris County Justice of the Peace, Precinct 7, Place 1, at 5737 Cullen Boulevard in Houston for renters and landlords. Documents needed include:
1. A complete copy of your lease or three months proof of payments.
2. Income information for each person living in your home (if no income no document required).
3. If receiving Government assistance of any kind bring benefits or award letters for each person.
4. Copy of your identification.
5. Copy of most current utility bills (if requesting assistance).
6. Copy of Eviction or Notice to Vacate.