Dallas County Justice of the Peace court teams with non-profit to avoid evictions

A unique partnership between a Justice of the Peace court in Mesquite and a non-profit has helped people navigate the process of getting covid-19 rental relief.

Nearly 800 families have been saved from being forced out of their rental homes and apartments thanks to the extra help.

Justice of the Peace Katina Whitfield in Mesquite has been a lifeline for people who face the same problems -- lost jobs because of COVID-19, many months behind on rent and facing eviction.

"That's catastrophic and often leads to homelessness if you just lose a week’s pay. But to lose months and months and months, without external financial, these people will never be able to overcome months of not receiving income," said Teresa Jackson, CEO, Sharing Life Community Outreach.

The Mesquite non-profit is helping people through the process of getting COVID-related rent relief.

"The funds that we are utilizing to help Mesquite residents come from CDBG Coronavirus-19 funding," Jackson said.

So far they've helped stop 790 evictions.

"It's literally keeping families out of their cars and from living couch to couch or living in the open air," Jackson said. 

Whitfield says it’s giving tenants an advocate.

"It’s a lot more helpful because they're here, they've come to this person rather than us referring that person out," Whitfield said.

Sharing Life's Lana Range listens to each case then visits with the tenant and handles all paper work for them.

"To see the relief on the clients face when they're here for the rental assistance… it’s a very rewarding experience for me personally," Range said.

Payments go directly from sharing life to landlords.

"Sharing Life has been pivotal in allowing those funds to get to us quickly so that we can dismiss cases and let people stay in their homes versus having to ask them to move out," said landlord William Lawson.

Whitfield says her goal is to help tenants stay in their homes while landlords also get their money. The court, she says, is not just a place where issues are ruled on but a place where issues may also have a chance to amicably be resolved.


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