With at least 4 million Texans having filed for unemployment since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a significant increase in eviction cases as well. Tenants and landlords have been awaiting an update on the federal moratorium on evictions, which was initially set to expire on December 31, 2020. On Monday, Congress passed a stimulus bill that extends the moratorium until the end of January 2021. In response, the Texas Supreme Court has extended its emergency eviction relief program, set to expire at the end of January, for another month and a half.

Copy-of-COVID-19-RESOURCE-18The Texas Eviction Diversion Program launched in October. The aim of the program is to lower eviction rates during the pandemic by giving both landlords and eligible tenants a mutually beneficial option when a tenant falls behind on rent.

If both parties agree, the state puts a hold on the eviction for 60 days, giving the landlord time to decide if they would like to resume eviction afterwards. If the landlord decides against it, the Eviction Diversion Program covers the past due rent, provides at least six more months of additional assistance, and dismisses the eviction case. The rent money is provided directly to the landlord and the court records are sealed so that the tenant does not have an eviction case they have to explain on their record.

The Eviction Diversion program is currently being piloted in 19 counties and will expand to at least 30 more communities in the state by mid-January with hopes of a state-wide expansion by spring. As of right now, the Eviction Diversion Program is only applicable for eviction cases opened under nonpayment of rent.

If you or anyone you know is facing eviction, please visit http://www.stoptxeviction.org for detailed information surrounding the eviction process and renter’s rights. To apply for free legal services, contact Lone Star Legal Aid at 1 (800) 733 8394 or visit our website at http://www.lonestarlegal.org.

Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm focused on advocacy on behalf of low-income and underserved populations. Lone Star Legal Aid serves millions of people at 125% of federal poverty guidelines that reside in 72 counties in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions of Texas, and 4 counties of southwest Arkansas. Lone Star Legal Aid focuses its resources on maintaining, enhancing, and protecting income and economic stability; preserving housing; improving outcomes for children; establishing and sustaining family safety and stability, health and well‐being; and assisting populations with special vulnerabilities, including those who have disabilities, or who are elderly, homeless, or have limited English language skills. To learn more about Lone Star Legal Aid, visit our website at http://www.lonestarlegal.org.

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