Evictions 'substantially worse' as cases escalate in Harris County, judge says

Nick Natario Image
Thursday, October 5, 2023
Evictions become growing problem as cases escalate in Harris County
Harris County's growing eviction issue might get worse post-COVID-19 relief if more affordable housing options don't become available, officials say.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Experts fear a perfect storm has caused evictions to soar like never before in Harris County.

Inside Harris County courtrooms, nearly 500 eviction cases were heard on Wednesday.

Liegha Gloud's case was one of them.

"I'm not going to lie, it's not easy anymore," Gloud said.

An eviction notice is an issue that landed her at Harris County Justice of the Peace, Precinct 7, Place 1's courtroom.

"It's kind of tough because I don't know where I'm going to go if I do get evicted," Gloud said.

Gloud wasn't alone. Judge Wanda Adams said she's never had a day like Wednesday inside her courtroom. Originally, she had more than 140 eviction cases on the docket.

"This is the largest (amount of eviction cases) I've had since I've been on the bench since the last two and half years, almost three years," Adams explained.

This is a growing concern not only in Adams' courtroom.

"I would call it substantially worse because in any given month this year, it's been higher than the average in 2019 by anywhere from 20% to 70%," Jeff Reichman, January Advisors principal, said.

Reichman tracks evictions across Harris County. He said the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down the amount of eviction cases.

During the pandemic, there were eviction moratoriums, rental assistance, and stimulus checks. Those are now gone.

Reichman explained that unless more affordable housing options are available, the situation may get worse.

"It's almost as if all the good work that was done to prevent evictions during the pandemic came roaring back with a vengeance," Reichman said.

This change is happening in a place you may not expect it.

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 7, Place 1, isn't just a place where evictions happen. Adams launched behind the bench: justice of the peace.

Outside the courtroom, tables are filled with organizations offering people ways to go to school, find a job, or learn about legal and rental assistance.

"If that was me on the other side, I would want someone to care about me," Adams explained. "I would want someone to care about me. Normally, when some of them leave, they say they didn't know some of these resources were available."

It's the assistance that Gloud learned about on Wednesday. The help is a boost she may need because after Wednesday, she may not know what will happen next.

"It's kind of been tough," Gloud said. "It's been tough this year."

If you're facing eviction, or behind on rent, experts told ABC13 that the best thing you can do is talk to your landlord. Also, reach out to places like an eviction court, because you may be able to learn about what assistance is available.

For updates on this story, follow Nick Natario on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.