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 the CDC moratorium will not deter him. She wants to see real change and fulfilled promises from state and local officials.
My name is Jamie and I am a disabled woman living in a rented house with my adult children, one daughter, one son, and his pregnant fiance. As soon as we moved into the house, we realized it wasn’t as great as it first seemed: it was dirty, there were roaches, as well as squirrels or rats in the walls. Unfortunately, my entire family got COVID-19, and it was safer to stay in the house than look for a place to stay while we were all sick.
The living situation got worse the longer we stayed. I am currently living off of disability while my kids pay all the rent that they can. We don’t like the situation, but money is an issue, especially with a baby due in June. The first month we fully missed rent was in February 2021, and our landlord immediately threatened us with eviction, but without a formal eviction notice. He would bang on the door for “gas money,” and random people would knock on the door late at night asking about the used cars in the front yard that he was selling. While all of this was going on, we worried about my son’s fiance’s pregnancy, especially since she tested positive for COVID as well.
The landlord continued to bully us in person and over text, threatening eviction but never giving us an eviction notice. I contacted the Ellis County Homeless Coalition and President James Bell helped me learn about Texas Rent Relief and the CDC moratorium on evictions. He’s also been the mediator between me and the landlord because they are vulgar and argue with me. I applied for TRR and turned in the CDC moratorium on February 4th, and the landlord’s response was “I have already evicted other tenants and I know how to get around the COVID law.” But he still did not send me an eviction notice. He just kept harassing us.
After a while, I got fed up and wished the landlord would take me to court so that I could prove that I had COVID and that the courts would tell him he can’t evict me. Meanwhile, COVID-19 hit me harder than my family, and I am still experiencing side effects from it, which landed me in the hospital two times after I initially got COVID. Not only have I been having heart issues, but it has increased my anxiety and PTSD, which I already had, but they got worse since all of this happened.
As I am waiting on my rental relief application to go through, my biggest issue is that there is no way to stop the bullying and uncertainty with a landlord who threatens eviction but doesn’t follow through. I don’t know what to do, so I pray a lot. I wish there was a way to stop the harassment without fear of losing my home. I also wish that mental health services related to COVID-19 could be provided. Not only am I suffering with increased anxiety, but my children are too. James Bell of the Ellis County Homeless Coalition does so much to help me, but I know he has other work to do, and I wish I had someone more formally dedicated to my particular case. Those are the improvements I wish to see.