Facing eviction? Harris County tenants are finding relief in the most unexpected place

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Despite an eviction moratorium from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hundreds of Harris County residents face eviction each week, but some are getting a boost from an unexpected place.

It's a tool put in place since the pandemic started to help keep tenants in economic distress in their homes.

EVICTIONS STILL TAKING PLACE

Days ago, the White House extended the CDC eviction moratorium. It's a tool put in place since the pandemic hit, to help keep tenants impacted by the situation in their homes.

Despite the moratorium, January Advisors, which tracks eviction data, told ABC13 the process hasn't stopped.

"Generally speaking, we're seeing between 50 and 200 cases filed every day," said Jeff Reichman of January Advisors. "That's across Harris County, and that includes the city of Houston. Every week, we're looking at 500 to a thousand families faced with an eviction notice."

Reichman said the problem is only 3% of tenants have legal representation, and they don't understand the confusing process.

"The CDC moratorium only reached about 13% of eligible defendants," Reichman explained. "It really didn't reach many people at all."

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

WHERE ARE EVICTIONS TAKING PLACE?

Data from January Advisors shows communities in Harris County with higher amounts of apartments are seeing the largest numbers of evictions. This includes communities such as Eldridge/West Oaks, Spring, Southwest and Greenspoint. These areas have the highest number of evictions with about 1,800 in each community.

"What's alarming is the economy hasn't fully recovered, and so people aren't fully back at work and rent is due," Reichman said. "I don't want the world to be tired of this subject because every month this is coming back up."

But there's good news. Reichman said the number of evictions filed is lower than before the pandemic hit. However, it's remained a steady trend of cases for several months.

GETTING HELP AT EVICTION COURT

On Wednesday, Judge Wanda Adams at Harris County Precinct 7 held eviction court. She had 23 cases and a majority of them were dismissed.

"Two weeks ago, they were about to get evicted, and placed on the street," Adams explained. "Then, because we reset the case, and then they come back and say, 'I got it!' That's another judgment I don't have to render."

Here's how it works. If a defendant faces eviction because of back rent, Adams will ask if the party and landlord are willing to work together and apply for rental assistance.

Adams also invites the agency, Alliance, to court, where they meet with parties and educate them about rental assistance programs.

Once they apply, Adams resets the case for two weeks. Adams said the majority don't come back, because the program pays 12 months of prior rent, and a couple of months ahead.

"To date, we have prevented close to 400 families, 400 households, from falling into homelessness," said Aarti Goswami, a spokesperson for Alliance.

SEE ALSO: CDC issues new eviction ban for most of the United States through Oct. 3

RENTAL ASSISTANCE STILL AVAILABLE

You don't need to be in eviction court in order to receive rental assistance. The Houston and Harris County program has distributed about $167 million and assisted 44,000 families, and there are still millions of dollars available.

For anyone who lives outside of Harris County, there are other programs available.

Fort Bend County offers a program, and the state has one too.

For more updates on how to get rental assistance, follow Nick Natario on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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