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.
Why is my landlord allowed to refuse rental relief? That’s been one of my biggest frustrations since the beginning of my COVID-19 eviction story. My name is Kim and I live in Houston, TX where I work in fast food service. Once COVID-19 hit, my work hours were cut significantly, but I didn’t lose my job. Even though I still had work, I was not making enough money to cover rent and I became worried about what would happen to my housing situation if I had to live like this for several months.
In the first stages of my worry, I talked to the assistant manager of my apartment complex. I told her I had rent for the month of March but that I wasn’t sure how long I would be able to make full payments. The assistant manager told me to pay rent for that month and to talk to them about setting up a partial payment plan in the future, if I needed it. In the meantime, I applied for BakerRipley’s Rental Assistance Program and filed a CDC Moratorium declaration. I qualified for April and May rental assistance.
I tried paying my rent in June but it was refused by the property manager. The rental program I was approved for states that if the landlord accepts the rental assistance, they may not evict tenants for a certain amount of time, but it was not honored by the property manager and I received a Notice to Vacate. In court, I was offered the Texas Eviction Diversion Program but that was also refused. The landlord wanted me out and filed a motion to contest my CDC declaration because they said that I had not been making partial payments in a timely manner. Around this time, I enlisted the help of Lone Star Legal Aid.
Now it is 2021 and I went to court for the contest of my CDC declaration. I had been paying my rent to the County Civil Court as part of my case, as dictated my Lone Star Legal Aid attorney. On March 2nd, my CDC declaration was accepted by the court judge because the 3 months of payment were in the court registry, since the property manager refused my rent. Through all of this, I lost hours of work because of court hearings and all the landlord had to do is accept my rent money.
At the end of the day, I work for people and I need to be safe from COVID-19. I already put myself at risk by taking public transit, and I need my home life to be as safe as possible. If I’m evicted, I will have nowhere to live, and it may jeopardize my ability to work at my current job. On top of the stress of possible eviction, the whole process of qualifying for COVID-19 protections has been confusing and contradictory depending on who you talk to.
I can only hope the recent extension of the CDC Moratorium will help my case be dismissed along with the millions of tenants affected by this. I will do what I can to help other tenants stay safe also. I will keep informing all involved of our struggle with this urgent life issue. When we get full protection in every legal way will be when I will stand down. I hope this gives all of you hope to keep fighting also for all our lives to matter.