Renter with disability won't have to worry about Labor Day eviction order

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Lone Star Legal Aid team is offering to walk renters through the process of applying for the CDC's eviction ban that aims to defer evictions until January 2021.

On Friday, a nationwide ban on evictions went into effect, just one day after Houston renter Israel Rodriguez's story aired on CNN and went viral.

Another renter, Judy Phillips, called ABC13 for help. Phillips received her eviction notice in the mail Friday morning. She said she has applied for rental assistance programs and has been on the housing authority waiting list for one year now.

She said she's disabled and has been applying for jobs, but has not landed one yet.

"I say, 'God, please help me because I'm tired of struggling,'" Phillips said. "I don't know where I'm going to go."

Phillips has until Monday to move out, according to the eviction notice.

People in Phillips' position can fill out the CDC's eviction declaration form and talk to their landlord about applying.

According to the CDC's order, renters must meet the following criteria:
  • The renter must expect to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income in 2020 ($198,000 if filing a joint return), was not required to report income to the IRS in 2019 (SSA or other benefit recipients), or received a stimulus check under the CARES Act;
  • The renter has tried their best to apply for all available government assistance available for rent or housing;
  • The renter is unable to pay all the rent as a result of a substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable work hours or wages, a layoff, or "extraordinary" out-of-pocket medical expenses (unreimbursed medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of adjusted gross income for the year);
  • The renter is trying their best to make timely and full payments as the renter's circumstances permit, taking into account other non-discretionary expenses; and
  • If evicted, the renter would likely become homeless, need to move into a homeless shelter, or move into a new congregate or shared living setting (i.e., where residents live in close quarters) because the individual has no other available housing options.


John Boriack, President-elect of Houston Apartment Association, said the order does not relieve renters of paying the bill, just delays the payments until the end of the year.

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"It kicks the can down the road and prevents a problem, and so, the problem doesn't go away. Rent is still due and late fees and everything else will continue to build up and then come to you all at once if the resident is not prepared for it," Boriack said.

The Houston Apartment Association also offers financial help for renters. Boriack also recommends for renters to talk to their landlord first and try to come to an agreement. He warns some evictions could still happen if the renter does not meet the criteria laid forth by the CDC.

As for Phillips, shortly after her story aired on Eyewitness News Live at Five, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee reached out to ABC13 with hopes to help her and possibly stop the eviction.

Jackson Lee later Friday said everything was taken care of and Phillips won't have to worry about eviction through Labor Day. The two will meet Tuesday to figure out next steps.

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