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Eviction moratorium extended nationwide as Texas readies to ramp up rent assistance program for large North Texas counties

The Biden administration adds more time to protect renters struggling during the pandemic. And Texas expands a pilot program offering help to vulnerable tenants.

There is big news regarding evictions. As the pandemic rages on, many renters are struggling mightily to maintain a roof over the heads, so one of President Joe Biden’s first acts after being sworn in was to extend the CDC national moratorium on evictions that had been set to expire at the end of January.

The Biden Administration’s new head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rochelle P. Walensky made the announcement.

Rent assistance efforts are also expanding in 19 more counties on Feb. 1, including Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, and Denton counties.

You must sign up in order to be protected by the CDC eviction moratorium

Important note: You must truthfully fill out a declaration form and present it to your landlord to be covered by the eviction protection. And if possible, document that your landlord has received the declaration, either by sending the signed form in an email or through mail delivery that generates confirmation it was received.

Even under moratorium, many evictions being filed

The moratorium does not prevent a property owner from taking a tenant to court to challenge the truthfulness of the declaration. Indeed, even with the order in place, there have been many court cases being filed against delinquent renters. 

Princeton University’s Eviction Lab tracks those filings in select cities. One of the locations on the watch list is greater Fort Worth, where last week, the lab documented 685 eviction cases filed. That’s the highest weekly total since the pandemic began.

Many renters in Texas are vulnerable. Before the most recent COVID-19 financial relief was passed, Stout published an analysis that estimated that between 706,000 and 1,430,000 renter households in Texas were at risk of eviction.

Resources for renters struggling in the pandemic

As I have previously noted, tenants who are struggling may be able to find helpful resources here and here.

Additionally, in late 2020, Texas rolled out the Eviction Diversion Program, which can provide up to six months or rent assistance for eligible tenants. 

The aim is to keep renters in their homes and provide crucial rent payments to landlords who are also struggling from the loss of income. 

Initially, 19 Texas counties were included in the pilot program: Bee, Bexar, Brazos, Chambers, Deaf Smith, El Paso, Erath, Fannin, Grayson, Harris, Jim Wells, Kleberg, Montgomery, Palo Pinto, Parker, Potter, Randall, San Patricio, and Wise.

On Feb. 1, the rent assistance effort will expand to 17 more Texas counties, including Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, and Denton counties: Bell, Brazoria, Cameron, Collin, Dallas, Denton, Fort Bend, Galveston, Hidalgo, Lubbock, Nueces, Tarrant, Taylor, Tom Green, Travis, Victoria, and Webb.

Click here to learn more about the Texas Eviction Diversion Program.