HOUSTON – In response to some deplorable living conditions in rental housing in Harris County, Commissioner Rodney Ellis announced a newly approved Tenant Protection Policy on Wednesday.
Commissioner Ellis will be joined by Dr. Adrienne Holloway, Community Services Department Executive Director, Michael Depland, Texas Housers Communications Manager, and Oscar Thomas, Texas Organizing Project (TOP) Housing Justice Organizer.
The policy is set to protect renters’ right to repairs, ability to apply for housing free from discrimination, and due process before being evicted.
The policy, which applies to housing that will be developed or redeveloped using county funds, is necessary, according to Elis, because the state law provides little to no protections for renters.
“Every Harris County resident deserves to live in a home that is safe, healthy and secure,” Ellis said. “Tenant protections play a crucial role in preventing evictions and giving residents a fighting chance at housing stability.”
In June, after KPRC 2 reported that Cleme Manor residents were complaining of rodents, pest, sewer backups and long power outages, Commissioner Ellis delayed a Commissioners Court vote to fund nonprofit NHP Foundation’s new development that was on the agenda. He put the vote on hold until the county included a set of tenant protections in the loan agreement.
Cleme Manor, which is privately owned by NHP Foundation, is a government-subsidized property.
“Cleme Manor officials worked with us to adopt tenant protections, and other affordable housing owners should too,” Ellis said. “This is not an isolated incident.”
In addition to more defense against unjust evictions, Ellis said the newly approved policy would give residents greater access to rental units free from discriminatory screening policies and clear rights to organize and seek repairs.
Ellis said the policy was needed because too many people, especially 46% of Harris County residents who rent, live in precarious living situations. Under Texas Law, tenants have few protections and little recourse against retaliation from a landlord.
“These protections will impact thousands of residents’ lives for the better,” Ellis said. “The state Legislature preempted the county’s ability to enforce habitability standards, but we can hold developers who receive county funds to a higher standard.”