Texas Supreme Court extends and expands eviction diversion program

Posted at 6:21 PM, Jul 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-23 19:21:52-04

The nationwide eviction moratorium will end Tuesday, but the state supreme court is stepping in to help Texans facing eviction. The Texas Eviction Diversion Program initiated by Governor Greg Abbott, uses 171 million dollars from CARES Act funding for rental assistance and legal services for Texans facing eviction. The program initially offered to a select group of counties, is now available to all Texans and will be extended until October 1st. It's a program housing advocates say is essential.

The extension is good news for renters and housing advocates like Barbara Bozon, the Executive Director of the Central Texas Housing Consortium.

"It's critical, it's always been critical. You know, we've tried really hard to work with our residents. Way back, you know, over a year ago when this first started," said Bozon.

Bozon believes Texas has been luckier than other states when it comes to access of eviction programs.

"I think in Central Texas, to me, we've been pretty fortunate, like I said, the diversion programs up and running. We have not sent as many people through that," Bozon said. "There's some parts of the country that that's not happening, that rental assistance isn't getting out to people and the word is not getting out to people. So they haven't been able to tap into that resource."

However, that does not mean, people in our area go with out a struggles getting access to resources, related to rental assistance.

The threat of eviction once looming over the head of Esteban Williams. As a dental assistant, Williams was out of work for about three months and got behind on rent.

Williams said, "As a renter, I'm sitting here like, what am I going to do, because I have some money in the savings account but what happens when that runs out?"

With his wife starting up a cleaning business, and eventually getting back to work, he is back on track. Williams, says he and his family have become more thrifty.

"I have kids, I'm always thinking about the next step how to make them secure their future. We started a garden, we became thriftier. Like I said, to make sure that we are able to stretch our resources."

Unfortunately, others are as lucky as Williams, and have not bounced back just yet. Bozon says this program will help those who have active eviction cases.

"What this does is it allows residents and landlords to work together to get rental assistance and to get their rent caught up and paid," she said.

To be eligible for the program you must have an active eviction case. Once in court if both parties agree to participate and the application is approved, the tenant can stay in the home and the case will be dismissed, while the landlord receives payment.

Bozon said, "When what happens is when they go to court, the judge will say, hey, there's an eviction diversion program. If y'all can work together, you can get the funding through that program. And then the eviction will not be on their record."

Bozon said communication with your landlord is essential because it can help tenants avoid the eviction process all together.

"People do need to communicate, it's really important that they talk to their landlord, and let their landlord knows what's going on, so that they can work together to a solution because landlords obviously need funding to you know, they have costs, they have wages, they have upkeep," said Bozon.

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