WACO, TX — The COVID crisis has come back to bite us in a new, and frightening way.
People who'd lost jobs and couldn't pay rent had protection against eviction in the CARES act, but that protection has run out.
Protection from eviction in the CARES Act expired June 24th, and in some places, it's already started creating a homeless problem.
That's not the case in Central Texas yet but many people see it coming, and want the people who could face eviction to come forward and get help.
A pile of what seems like perfectly good belongings out on the curb often means somebody got evicted.
The coronavirus pandemic threatened to make many more of us homeless when the damage it did to our economy caused so many to lose their jobs.
The federal CARES Act put a stop to that, but now that protection has run out and the clock has started ticking down to the end of this month when a notice period expires.
"The moratorium expired July 24th and we are required to give every tenant 30 days notice so that means we would be looking at going to court the first part of September," explained Milet Hopping of the Waco Housing Authority, who says her group, and others have started working to bring a potential flood of eviction orders down to a trickle.
Lone Star Legal Aid's Sheryl Swanton says she's had an increase in people applying for help to slow down or stop an eviction, from people who lost jobs in the COVID crisis, and who now make far less in income than before.
Both Swanton and Hopping want tenants in trouble to seek help before it gets too late.
"We've been asking tenants to come in, and work with us, on a repayment agreement, to get us to a point where we don't have to file on any tenants," said Hopping.
It's important because landlords depend on the rent money they make to pay off mortgages on the property they own.
Attorney David Dickson tells us most tenants will find it easier to negotiate with their landlord than with the bank after it forecloses on their property.
The housing authority, which runs 3 complexes and the so-called "section 8" home rental program, can get more of a tenants rent paid if they come in to document their income adjustment.
"Nobody has to lose their place of home or their place to live," said Hopping.
Most landlords say they would rather take something rather than nothing, so working out a payment plan really pays off.
If you'd like more information on evictions and your rights under the law, you'll find it at the lonestar legal website here.
Look for the information in the big red box.