West Dallas families at a loss following hundreds of eviction notices

A dozen families facing eviction in West Dallas came together Saturday, in an effort to stay in their homes.

On Tuesday, a Dallas district court judge ruled that housing company HMK will have to wait two more weeks before it can evict residents. The company was trying to evict more than 300 residents by the end of October.

A yelling match erupted at Saturday’s West Dallas community meeting, when HMK landlord Khraish Khraish, said the city is making him look like the bad guy. Tenants are now organizing in hopes of staying in their homes.

"They don't know where to go. There’s 342 people. Where are they going to relocate to by the end of this month?” said Frank Avila.

Anger like Avila's is fueling a movement by the Texas Organizing Project to plan protests against the City of Dallas and HMK. The city is scrambling to comply with a tough new ordinance that requires certain maintenance levels for rental properties in Dallas.

HMK's response was to evict its residents rather than fix the properties, giving them one month to get out by October 31st.

"I'm a single mother of four. I've been in West Dallas all my life and basically, we don't want to move. We don't have anywhere to go," said Ashton Elder.

SMU law student, Laura Torres says she disagrees with the company’s decision "This is injustice and it's really going to break a lot of hearts and a lot of families."

Torres and her husband Jake live in West Dallas, the area Laura's family moved, after immigrating from Mexico. Together, they got the SMU law clinic on the tenants' cases. So far, 50 of the families have received legal advice, pro bono, from SMU law students.

"Some of these meetings have taken 30 minutes, some of them have been a little bit more complicated and they've taken an hour, but everyone's coming out of it completely empowered," said Torres.

On Tuesday, a judge halted the evictions, scheduling a hearing on the 24th to decide whether to pursue a case against the landlord for violating city and state laws.

The group of tenants will meet again Thursday at the city library in West Dallas.

HMK and a city spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

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