Family's eviction days from baby's due date indicative of numbers in Kinder Institute study

Nick Natario Image
Tuesday, August 1, 2023
Family of 7 ordered out of home days before baby boy's due date
Instead of preparing for the arrival of a new family member, a mom, a dad, and their kids are worrying about where they're supposed to live as they vacate the home they were ordered to leave.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A recent study shows a growing rental crisis in Harris County that a family of seven knows too well.

Shatrice Brown and Steven Ragas' world is about to get a little bigger. The pair have five kids, range in age from 2 to 12 years old, and in any day, that will grow by one.

Brown is stressed, though, and she's not worried about the birth of her new child. Brown is strained over something else.

"I have my children, so what do we do? We can't be in a car," Brown said. "We can't be outside. We have to do something."

The couple said they moved into an apartment earlier this year, believing they would receive financial help from a local agency.

However, the agency said there was a documentation issue. Because of this, the couple couldn't afford their rent and have to be out by Tuesday.

"Like any real man that's going through a struggle, we're broke and we're hurt, but we're staying strong and keep pushing," Ragas explained.

The Kinder Institute at Rice University took a look at renters in Harris County.

It found the majority spend at least 30% of their income on rent. The percentage is one that the federal government says is what makes someone housing cost-burdened, which is a problem that eventually leads to eviction.

Last year, the agency found 80,000 evictions took place, which was double from 2020.

"Everybody goes through stuff. Everybody has their hard times," Brown said. "Their bad days. Everybody goes through stuff."

For the expectant parents, their bad day couldn't come at a worse time. Instead of focusing on the birth of their baby boy, they're left packing boxes and wondering what to do next.

"Even looking for landlords with individually-owned houses and everything like that," Brown said. "Trying to see if anybody will accept us or something, but a lot of people are saying, 'no.'"

Evictions aren't impacting certain areas. The study found they're rising all over the county, including in surprising areas. Near Memorial Park, the study found evictions rose by more than 600%.

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