Eviction cases move forward in Harris County as Coronavirus cases rise

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Saturday, July 4, 2020
Despite rise in COVID-19 cases, evictions continue in Harris County
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Despite rise in COVID-19 cases, evictions continue in Harris County

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Despite rising coronavirus cases, and parts of the economy closing, eviction cases are moving forward in Harris County.

Gisele Gonzalez is one of many Texans struggling to pay rent during the pandemic. "Overwhelmed," Gonzalez said. "Stressed out. My anxiety level. I can't deal with anymore stress at the moment."

Gonzalez says her husband lost his job in the pandemic. Because of this, they've received two eviction notices.

Thanks to family, they haven't had to leave the southeast Houston complex. "We're in debt with a couple family members now, but thankful to them we're still here," Gonzalez explained.

If you're struggling to pay rent, the Houston Apartment Association says talk to your landlord. If you make an agreement, get it in writing.

Experts said while the courts closed in March due to the pandemic, they've reopened, and hearing eviction cases.

From the time someone gets the notice, to being forced out, could take about a month. "Even if you got a notice to vacate, continue to communicate with your landlord, and see if something can be worked out," Houston Apartment Association General Counsel, Howard Bookstaff explained.

This month is important for those living in public housing. A federal package passed in March, blocking evictions for those residents.

However, on July 25th, that ends. Which means, public housing residents could face eviction in a few weeks.

"Landlords want you, but you have to communicate," Bookstaff said. "You've got to agree to something to give the landlord hope that there's going to be rent in the future."

The Houston Apartment Association also said there is financial help available, which can be found on its website. "There's actually new programs being done every day," Bookstaff said. "I would continue to look for it. Don't be discouraged."

Gonzalez says her July rent is set. As for August, she's not sure what will happen.

"We'll have to figure something out," Gonzalez said. "I'm not sure."

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