Eviction prevention is the main tool to ensure that households remain safe and stable. The ongoing displacement of tenants disrupts many lives and communities, and we are advocating for both long-term reform and better emergency protections in times of crisis. Updates, information, and more can be found at this space.
Here are our stories covering Eviction Prevention:
In our initial efforts to assess the needs of low-income households in the outset of COVID-19, we recognized that there was a growing societal awareness of what tenants have historically faced in our state. Texas Housers identified this as an opportunity to both educate in our efforts and move to make change.
This manifested in a number of ways. While the pandemic did prompt federal, state, and local government to act to protect residents with eviction moratoriums and rent relief measures, many of the mechanisms of how eviction typically worked remained. As emergency protections expired, courts went back to business as usual, despite the fallout from COVID-19 still affecting thousands of households. And many of those courts ignored the protections that were put in place in the first place.
Texas Housers launched our CourtWatch program in September of 2020 with the goal to ensure evictions are both fair and rare and that these proceedings are conducted lawfully. Here, we observe court to see if protections are mentioned and to record what rulings are made, in order to construct a picture of what court is like for tenants.
This informed our work behind Justice of the Peace recommendations. Our learnings also enabled us to give thoughtful feedback to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) as well as local officials.
We have also spent the majority of the pandemic tracking the reporting of evictions and expenditure of rent relief on our Eviction Prevention Dashboard.
Our work in eviction protection has taken a large step over the course of the pandemic. We have joined national partners such as the National Low Income Housing Coalition for federal strives like housing choice vouchers, sealing eviction records, right to counsel and executing work here at home (see tenant bill of rights). We will continue to fight for the rights of tenants in eviction courts until there is truly equal power for tenants and landlords under the law.
One of the best ways to get involved is to stay informed by subscribing to our newsletter here. We have released monthly special editions focused on evictions and eviction prevention, and you can also check out the newsletter archive.
If you are interested in observing court or otherwise interested in the CourtWatch program, sign up to volunteer. We currently have an active presence in the Harris, Dallas, and Bexar County courts.
This project is also connected to our Texas Tenant Advisor website, which provides resources and information for renters across the state.
Texas Housers initial statement on COVID-19 – Our goals at the outset of the pandemic
Taking Care of Texas during COVID-19 – A white paper with housing policy recommendations to the Texas governor and state officials by Texas Housers
Keeping Texans housed during and after the COVID-19 crisis – A white paper with housing policy recommendations to local city governments from Texas Housers
Protections for Texas Renters: COVID-19 – A resource from the University of Texas with updates regarding State, city, and county provisions regarding COVID-19
Federal Eviction Moratorium Guide – A flyer made by Texas Housers on the current eviction rules from the Federal Government.
Personal Stories from COVID-19 – Texas Housers collected stories from tenants experiencing eviction in the outset of COVID-19
Subsidized housing tenant protections during COVID-19 Crisis – Evictions, Late Fees, & More – BASTA (Building and Strengthening Tenant Action)
Protecciones para inquilinos en vivenda subsidiada durante COVID-19: Desalojos, Cargos por retraso, y mas – BASTA (Buscando Acción y Solidaridad Que Transforme el Arrendamiento)
Housing-Rights.org – Austin Tenants Council has a number of response resources on their website, including places to report housing discrimination, online counseling services regarding rights, ways to reporting notices to vacate under COVID-19’s moratorium, and more.