Since news of the COVID-19 pandemic first broke in spring 2020, Texas Housers has made tracking the disease’s effects on housing a main focus of our work. We have spent much of our efforts advocating both moratoriums and rent relief as this fundamental shift on our lives has yet to give any sign of yielding. With these efforts, we have been in contact with several decision-makers on issues like evictions, and it felt wise to bring them together to discuss what they are seeing in their workplaces and open them up to questions from everyday people.
This week, Texas Housers hosted Justices of the Peace from across the state, as well as Nelson Mock from Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, on Facebook Live to discuss the housing crisis at our doorstep.
This discussion with Judge Jeremy Brown (Harris 7-1), Judge Jeff Wentworth (Bexar 3-1), Judge Sasha Moreno (Dallas 4-2), and Judge Nicholas Chu (Travis P-5) touched on several issues renters are experiencing during COVID-19. These JPs were asked to describe what they have seen in their own courtrooms, how they are informing tenants of the CDC moratorium when holding eviction hearings, and what they intend to do in the long term under the pandemic.
While the panel was the main feature of the livestream, Texas Housers also had the opportunity to formally introduce our COVID-tracking website KeepTexansHoused.org as well as our accumulating rent tracker TexasRentClock.org.
Our organization has worked for months to create the best way to follow the number evictions in our state, as well as evaluate how cities and counties are helping vulnerable, low-income individuals and families. We achieved this by creating scorecards that grade Texas cities and counties by how much financial assistance they are providing to tenants, legal protections they are extending, and how transparent they are in their efforts.
In addition to grades for each locality, we also offer our policy suggestions on what will be necessary to make tenants whole throughout this pandemic and beyond. The CDC moratorium issued this September concludes at the end of the year. Without further assistance or policy from the government, this will result in a tidal wave of evictions and displacement.
Keep Texans Housed will be a place for news and original stories, vehicle for accountability, and a resource for those who want to learn and do more regarding housing justice during this pandemic.
Visit Keep Texans Housed to learn more about the COVID-19 pandemic and Housing in Texas.
We would like to thank Judge Brown, Judge Wentworth, Judge Moreno, and Judge Chu for joining our panel and Nelson Mock for moderating our informative discussion this week.