Told by people who are living through the realities of eviction and displacement during COVID-19.
Marcy had good luck at first with rent assistance in San Antonio, but the longer it took to receive relief, the more her property’s manager escalated tactics to get her out of her home.
Read Marcy’s story
Janie was able to apply for rent relief while taking care of both her immediate and extended family and suffering from COVID herself. The issue she has been confronted with is the Texas Rent Relief agents has not been meeting her effort level.
Read Janie’s story
Mona has had steady work for her entire life. The pandemic changed that. The protections put in place by the government should work for her by the letter. But what happened was a completely different story.
Read Mona’s story
My name is Ramona and I am a 57-year-old woman in marketing who was laid off due to COVID-19. I understand the stigma of asking for help, especially in the state of Texas, but times are tough, so I had to live on unemployment for over a year while taking odd jobs with services like Instacart and UberEats. I submitted a CDC declaration to my landlord in Sept 2020 and again in March 2021, applied for rental relief, and notified her that I qualified for federal assistance, but she refused to participate in the Eviction Diversion Program. Unfortunately, my CDC declaration was ignored in court and I was evicted from my apartment on March 31, 2021. Let me tell you: those odd jobs are not easy, and it was frustrating to know how hard people work to put food in their mouths and still risk eviction.
However, on April 2, 2021, a Texas Rent Relief Program representative informed me that I was approved for 6 months rent, which was sent to my landlord. I notified the representative that I had been evicted. She said that since I no longer occupy the unit, the landlord has to return the funds or it would be fraud. I was devastated to learn that I would not receive any of the money because I still owe the landlord $3000+ due to my eviction judgement, not to mention the money needed for application fees and deposit on a new apartment.
All of my belongings are in storage and I am now staying with a friend, who is being put at risk of catching and spreading COVID-19. Feeling desperate and hopeless, I contacted the administrators of Texas Rent Relief to ask why they were not awarding rental relief to people that had been evicted, and they informed me that my landlord had filed an application for Texas Eviction Diversion Program for my unit six days after the court date which determined my eviction date. I received this information with complete shock, because at that time, I had already removed my belongings from the unit and the property manager had this information. Right now, I am in the process of trying to understand if this might be a case of fraud, since someone in the apartment building applied for rent relief for my unit and person after they already filed an eviction suit against me.
Isn’t the point of rental assistance to keep people from being homeless and stopping the spread of COVID? A landlord disregards the eviction moratorium and the tenant loses the funding? How can this be? I hope you understand the impact and failure of the system. I am sure there must be many others in my situation.
Jamie is living with her children and has a newborn grandchild on the way, all while battling COVID-19. Her landlord threatened them with eviction multiple times, suggesting that CDC moratorium will not deter him. She wants to see real change and fulfilled promises from state and local officials.
Read Jamie’s Story
We were able to hear from Luke, a bartender who has searched for jobs since service industry work dried up in the spring of 2020. Because of his location, it was hard for him to qualify for rental relief.
Read Luke’s Story
Joshuwa experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19. Despite qualifying for federal protections, his landlord retaliated and made his apartment inhospitable.
Read Joshuwa’s Story
My name is Joshuwa. I live in El Paso, TX with my two children who are 1 and 8 years old. At the beginning of the pandemic, my wife’s work hours were cut until eventually she lost her job, while I’ve been at home dealing with non-COVID related health issues and taking care of the kids. My landlord initially agreed to take partial rent payments because he knew my situation, but eventually he changed his mind. At one point, I received funding from Project Vida to pay some of my back rent, but it wasn’t enough to cover August, September, and October of 2020. That was when the landlord stopped accepting partial rent payments, and became blunt, rude, and openly racist to me and my family.
Over the months that I was unemployed, conditions of the apartment started to get worse due to normal wear and tear. Since he wasn’t getting his rent payments, the landlord refused to make repairs, so I decided to do them myself. When trying to figure out why our cable wasn’t working, I realized that our cable cord had been deliberately cut, and it wound up costing me money to get it replaced. Later, our AC unit was also deliberately broken. Mind you, this was in the thick of Texas summer, when temperatures were quick to reach triple digits. Eventually, some fuses in our home blew, so electricity did not work in half of the apartment, and he refused to fix that as well. He eventually served me eviction papers.
I met with some Legal Aid advisors and told them about my case. They advised me to call the code enforcement department to report the issue, after which they sent a city inspector to check out the conditions. They confirmed that the landlord deliberately broke things to get me out of the apartment. Eventually, my eviction case was dismissed because he did not give me proper notice. Even though I am able to stay in the apartment, it would be with no AC, partial electricity, and a landlord who has been racist and rude to me and my children. He has threatened me with eviction again, and because I don’t want my family to go through that anymore, we moved into my mother-in-law’s apartment.
After all this, I feel like it’s too much of a hassle to fight him tooth-and-nail to make the apartment livable again. I think it will be easier and less tense if we find a new place to live where me and my kids are wanted. My biggest issue with the eviction system is that the landlord is not punished for the way he treated me and the property, so he can keep retaliating against tenants who can’t pay full rent, especially during this pandemic where we are all doing our best to survive. I wish there was a way to prevent him from doing what he did to me to other tenants in the future.
Kim works in the restaurant industry and lost hours due to COVID-19. Despite turning in a CDC declaration, her landlord is still trying to evict her.