Through CTL’s Coalition for Homeless Children, CTL has had the opportunity to dig deep into some of the issues surrounding family homelessness over the past year. One of those issues is looking at ways to prevent evictions, and thereby prevent homelessness, through tenant education and advocacy.
Since last August, we have been collaborating with the Texas Tenants’ Union, Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, and the Texas A&M School of Law to offer monthly Tenant Empowerment Workshops in the community. At these free workshops, participants are able to learn about their basic rights and responsibilities as a renter and ask questions of experts in the field if they are experiencing challenges with their own housing situation or are facing eviction.
Thanks to the network that we have developed through these workshops, we were well equipped to respond quickly when COVID hit and began engaging our local policymakers right away, advocating for tenant protections that could keep families housed. We were pleased that a moratorium on evictions was implemented at both the county and state level relatively quickly. But that moratorium expires today (5/18/20) in Texas. The CARES Act affords some protections to renters through July 25, but the details are difficult to navigate for many renters.
One thing that policymakers could do to prevent unnecessary evictions is to pass an ordinance (at the local level) or a law (at the state level) that includes the
. Texas is one of only a handful of states that does not already have this legislation on the books that allows a tenant to make good on their debts prior to a judge’s final ruling on their eviction in court.
An Opportunity to Cure is not a waiver of rent, or fees, it just allows tenants the opportunity to pay what they owe prior to losing their housing. Under current Texas law, landlords are not obligated in any way to work with a tenant or accept late payments once eviction paperwork is filed. Cities throughout Texas have already passed similar ordinances including San Marcos, Austin, and Dallas.
We were thrilled to learn that there is $15 million in federal aid for rental assistance is now available in Fort Worth. However, if landlords are not obligated to take late payments from struggling families, or worse if they accept late payments and proceed with eviction anyway because the paperwork has already been filed, that money will not do what it is intended to do – keep families housed.
Our CEO Carol had the opportunity to visit with the Fort Worth Star Telegram about this work and you can read the full article here.
If you are interested in supporting the Coalition for Homeless Children by advocating for tenants in Tarrant County, please contact Heather Lowe at firstname.lastname@example.org