Evictions picking up in Tarrant County despite emergency rental assistance still available

Despite the flow of millions of dollars in emergency rental assistance throughout Tarrant County, evictions are becoming prevalent.

"I take no pleasure in having to evict a family from their home. That is the hardest part about my job," said Tarrant County Justice of the Peace for Precinct 7, Judge Kenneth Sanders.

Sanders said the work to connect tenants and landlords with the available programs has been tedious and sometimes wrought with misinformation. 

"We’ve had a lot of tenants, for various reasons, who thought that because of the pandemic they didn’t have to pay their rent," he explained. "I’ve had meetings with the city of Arlington housing, the mayors, to talk about the need for rental assistance for landlord and tenants. And they told me the money is there. The tenants and landlords just have to apply."

"It was a catch 22 for the landlords. We couldn’t evict, there was no income, but in the face of it all, the government came out with a solution," rental property owner Eli Ragira said.

Ragira has seen the system work and received back payments for past due rent, but he said it was not before he was forced to file for the eviction of some.

"We were six months behind, we didn’t have any income, so we were left with no option but to file. After we got the payments, we went ahead and forget the judgment, and everything is fine," Ragira said.

There was a Texas Supreme Court decision last week for the Texas Eviction Diversion Program, another emergency funding resource, to remain in place until October 1. It could amount to even more help for tenants.

"One of the roles that I try to facilitate is when cases come before my court, I let those landlords and those tenants know the resources that are available to them and I’m willing to work with them as much as they are willing to work with the system," Sanders added.