Couple forced to live in truck among many Houstonians dealing with evictions

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Despite the new eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, data from January Advisors shows 28 claims were filed on Thursday.

There have been more than 220 since the beginning of the month.

Help is out there for renters and landlords, but some Houstonians are still falling through the gaps and are being evicted from their homes and having a hard time finding relief.

"All of a sudden, we hear a loud knock on the door. I looked through the peephole and went, 'Oh well. Here we go.' There were three constables standing there," said Stephanie Bailey.

She and her husband, Richard, were evicted from their rental home in Cypress on Monday.

"As you can see, all of our stuff is just thrown. I got two chests of drawers here, and that's most of our clothes," she said.

Everything the couple owns came out of the house and onto the lawn. Their truck turned into the safest place they had to sleep.

Stephanie said medical bills hadn't been leaving enough money to cover the rent and created a high-stress situation for two senior citizens on a fixed income plus their pets.

"It's just him and me right now. Well, and Ginger," she said referring to her dog.

Meanwhile, people like Jay Malone, who works to get renters the assistance they need to avoid evictions, are staying busy.

"We're kind of in a situation right now where people need help, more than they ever have, and it's harder to get them the help that they need," she said.

Right now, rental relief is running out.

The Houston Chronicle reports the Harris County Rental Assistance program has already distributed about $157 million of the $195.5 million allotted according to Catholic Charities.

On top of that, Malone said some judges aren't enforcing the moratorium.

"Moratoriums are only as effective as their enforcement, and unfortunately, in Texas, enforcement has been really bad," he said.

Malone said there is no guidance at the state or federal level that forces judges to stop hearing evictions cases.

"We call on all of those judges to do the right thing and make sure that people that are at risk during this terrible pandemic, the rise in [the delta variant,] [that] their cases are heard," said Malone. "That those people are getting the legal protections that they deserve."

The Baileys have since been connected with charities that are now helping them move out of their truck into safe housing thanks to help of ABC13.

For updates, follow ABC13 reporter Briana Conner on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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