KPRC 2 investigates complaints against Texas’ Rent Relief program
Since February the state of Texas has paid landlords more than one billion dollars for tenants who can't afford to pay rent. KPRC 2 Investigates has received dozens of complaints from people all over the state who say they are waiting weeks and months for promised help. Here are 3 tips to increase your chances of getting help to pay your rent faster.
$180K in eviction donations found sitting in account associated with Pct. 1 Constable Foundation, KPRC 2 Investigates discovered
Harris County Precinct One Constable Alan Rosen made national headlines last September for showing how families were being evicted during the pandemic. In the days that followed, Rosen and his team raised $252,000 through a GoFundMe account to help those dealing with evictions.
There is $144 million still available in rent relief for Houston and Harris County residents. Here is how you can apply
HOUSTON – The Houston and Harris County Rent Relief Program is still open to applicants. There is still $144 million available of the original $159 million federal funds allocated at the end of February. Check out www.HoustonHarrisHelp.org to learn about the eligibility requirements for both tenants and landlords, read FAQs, and submit documents. Per U.S. Treasury guidelines, most payments will be made directly to landlords instead of tenants. This will reduce the wait time for past-due rent to be paid and will also protect tenants from eviction, legal action, and late fees.
Renters receive free recovery resources, legal aid from attorneys
HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – Local officials and community leaders held several drive-thru legal clinics on Saturday afternoon. Volunteer attorneys helped determine if renters qualified for protection under the CDC moratorium guidelines. “And we’ve been paying our rent because the last thing we want to be is under a bridge,” she said. AdEric Kwartler, an Attorney and Professor at South Texas College of Law Houston, said a lot of renters do not know their rights. “One big thing that people need to understand is you may get a notice to vacate from your landlord, stay in your home because you do have rights,” Kwartler said.
How and when landlords and tenants can apply for up to 15 months of rent and utility assistance
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs is administering the Texas Rent Relief Program and doling out $1.3 billion. Landlords and tenants can apply for the money to recoup unpaid rent and utility bills as far back as March 13, 2020 and up to three months in advance. AdDon’t wait until Monday to check out Texas Rent Relief. Tenants and landlords can apply separately, but Dana Karni of Lone Star Legal Aid says both parties will get help sooner if they cooperate with one another. You can call the Texas Rent Relief Program Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. to get answers to your questions.
Kicked out after Christmas? Thousands in our area face eviction - what is being done to help?
Hers is one of 16,618 cases filed in Harris County since late March. Countless Zoom meetings later, they’ve made no recommendations that have made it out of the task force. 108,076 have received at least a one-time payment from the City of Houston or Harris County since early May. Harris County Precinct One Foundation has a Free Eviction Legal Assistance Hotline you can call if you are facing eviction. All of the $60 million from Harris County has been allocated, but you can contact Catholic Charities for other resources.
‘I’m just so glad to be here:’ Houstonians desperate for rental help find it in Precinct 1
HOUSTON – Harris County Precinct 1 Constable Alan Rosen and other local officials unveiled an Eviction Assistance Program Wednesday to help those facing eviction due to the coronavirus pandemic. The program is designed to provide resources to help people facing eviction navigate challenges. Some in the Precinct 1 Constable’s Office wondered if anyone would show up on Wednesday for the event, but cars lined up before dawn. The nearly $250,000 raised will fund the new program, which provides free legal help and other services from community partners for tenants and landlords. You can reach South Texas College of Law Houston at 346-250-1069 and Eviction Defense Coalition at 713-982-7340.
Quick action by congresswoman, Heroes Act save Houston woman from eviction
HOUSTON – For Houston’s Judy Phillips is one of thousands of Houston area residents being forced to seek shelter because of the COVID crisis. After seeing Phillips’s story Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee stepped in swiftly to get funds from the federal Heroes Act to get Phillips' back rent and late fees paid in full. The act requires landlords to sign on to the program and Jackson Lee had a strong plea for them. “Don’t evict people while the city and the county are trying to process relief,” Jackson Lee said. And while Judy Phillips has a roof over her head Tuesday night, her story echoes the plight of thousands of our fellow neighbors and Houstonians hit hardest by the pandemic.
Harris County eviction cases continue to mount as coronavirus threat, job loss continues
The state lifted its moratorium on evictions at the end of May and since that time, the number of evictions cases filed in Harris County court has continued to rise. That’s the situation I’m in.”From southeast Houston to West Harris County, and from Pasadena to Humble, Harris County Justice of the Peace courts have dockets filled with eviction cases. There were 2,300 eviction cases filed Harris County just in the last month according to Princeton University’s Eviction Lab, which is studying evictions nationwide. Hepburn said despite historically lower numbers — unlike other cities such as Boston, Cleveland or even Austin — there are fewer protections for those facing eviction in Harris County. Karni said many people facing eviction don’t even know to ask if they’re covered by the CARES Act.
Here are answers to your questions about evictions and renters’ rights during the coronavirus pandemic
It doesn’t even allow you to NOT pay rent. It only says courts can not process evictions for non-payment of rent that landlords have filed until after May 18th. Q: Can landlords charge late fees? However, the federal CARES Act does prevent landlords whose mortgages are federally backed from charging late fees to their tenants. Attorney Mark Grandich with Lone Star Legal Aid said it’s not easy to find out, but many mortgages are federally backed.
Renters at risk as ban on evictions expires April 30
Houston – Texas’ order prohibiting landlords from evicting tenants who can’t pay their rent expires on April 30. They can’t be processed right now, but as soon as the order expires, that would be 845 people and families with no place to live. The bulk of these evictions have been filed in Harris County Precinct 4, which covers most of north Harris County from Spring on the northwest side to Humble on the northeast, and Precinct 5, which covers almost all of west Harris County. Until people get assistance or can go back to work, they have no way to pay their rent. Talk with your landlord about any changes you have had in pay that impact your ability to pay your rent.
Texas is one of 4 states where landlords are evicting people despite federal ban
Hundreds of renters have been displaced for failing to pay rent amid the global crisis, despite the federal ban, ProPublica reports. According to ProPublica, a review of records shows landlords in Texas still move forward to evict tenants from their properties, violating the eviction ban passed by Congress in March. The CARES Act prohibits landlords from filing evictions for nonpayment of rent during the pandemic. The CARES act also prohibits landlords from charging tenants additional fees, but most of the eviction filings reviewed by ProPublica show that landlords sought late fees and legal costs from their tenants. ProPublica found Texas is one of at least four where landlords are disobeying the law and still move forward to evict tenants from their properties.
Houston couple faces eviction notice amid coronavirus pandemic
But due to the global health emergency, Dixon and his wife Melva House has had to cancel over two dozen gigs. "Right now is our busiest time of the year, and due to the (coronavirus), we are all shut-in," he said. Now that the music has stopped, so has the extra income that has allowed the couple to make ends meet. "I do receive benefits from my other job, but it doesn't cover my rent," Dixon said. Dixon and his wife have lived at The Edge at Independence Heights on the north side of Houston for years.
COVID-19 threatens longevity of small businesses as many face evictions
Wings 87 co-owners Rashid Minhas and Nyn Riffat said they are determined to be a voice for small businesses in the Greater Houston area. Wings 87 is a small local chicken shop on Alabama Street that opened six months ago before lawmakers began restricting travel in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Community service is very close to our hearts,” Wings 87 co-owner Riffat said. From Day 1, Wings 87 has offered a 10% discount to neighbors, teachers, veterans and first responders, Minhas said. Fighting coronavirusThe owners of Wings 87 never anticipated the coronavirus pandemic.
Renter’s rights: Can you be evicted during the coronavirus pandemic?
HOUSTON – Like most of us, Emily Whitten of Houston is spending almost all her time indoors because of the coronavirus. Luckily for thousands of renters, the Texas Supreme Court issued an emergency order last week temporarily putting a halt on all evictions until April 19. However, KPRC 2 Investigates has found that despite that order, hundreds of eviction cases have since been filed in Harris County. One day after the Supreme Court order, 74 new eviction cases were filed on March 20. A total of 223 eviction cases filed since the order went into effect.
I don’t have enough money to pay rent. Can my landlord evict me or tack on late fees?
HOUSTON – More than four out of every 10 people in Houston rent their homes. With many of those tenants out of work or not getting paid right now, paying rent next week will be tough. Q: I won’t have enough to pay rent on April 1st. Isn’t my landlord required to help me since the coronavirus has caused many people to be laid off? It is entirely up to the landlords if they are willing to reduce your rent amount or accept late payments with no penalties.