Proposal that would give Dallas tenants 60-day grace period for evictions due to COVID-19 referred to committee

It’s April 1, and that means rent is due for thousands of people who are suddenly out of work because of the coronavirus pandemic.

One Dallas City Council member wants the city to give tenants a 60-day grace period before getting an eviction notice.

Councilman Adam Balzudua said an eviction notice is the last thing people need right now, with the coronavirus pandemic putting tens of thousands of North Texans out of work.

Several Dallas citizens begged city council members to give renters a break.

“No one should fear they will be left with nowhere to go during a pandemic,” said Rev. Wes Helm, with Faith in Texas.

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“Frightened families of this city cannot defer their bills to committee,” Dallas resident Steven Wollard said.

But Mayor Eric Johnson did exactly that - referred the proposal to committee - and said the council needs more time to study the issue.

“I cannot think of a worse time to introduce something like this into our discussion, when we have reduced the work of dealing with global pandemic. I cannot understand the urgency of it.  At best, I try to be sober in my description, at best I say the timing is suspicious,” he said.

“I am not asking for an unfair process. I want my colleagues to be able to weigh in to something that will impact their constituents. That is what democracy looks like,” Balzudua added.

The mayor argued that the city does not need to step into an eviction fight between tenants and landlords because the state and the county have put measures in place to pause evictions during the pandemic.

There is already a stay on evictions in Dallas County until May 18, that is intended to allow tenants time to reconfigure their finances to pay.