The following is a statement from Juan Narvaez and Bennie Tyler, two TOP members in San Antonio who have experienced eviction firsthand, in response to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) issuing a temporary halt on evictions nationwide Tuesday for matters of public health:
Juan Narvaez said: “For tenants who qualify, the CDC’s order preventing evictions brings some much-needed peace of mind. However, we don’t know when this pandemic will be over or when the economy will recover. Families still need long-term financial relief that will keep tenants from falling into a debt trap on January 1. Also, the CDC order may leave some tenants, including undocumented families, without eviction protections. As a father who has been through eviction court before, I know that no one deserves to go through this stressful experience, especially during a pandemic.
“It frightens me to think of the families this order does nothing to protect from eviction due to the accumulation of late fees and unpaid rent. Let’s not forget that informal evictions – where tenants elect to leave after high-pressure tactics from their landlord, are still taking place, in addition to evictions from reasons other than non-payment. Given that we are in a pandemic, it is unfair that housing protections are not ensured for everyone.”
Bennie Tyler said: “When I faced eviction, it wasn’t just because I couldn’t pay rent, it was because of the insurmountable fees I was wrongly given. For folks like me who are on a fixed income, the threat of eviction from both accumulating rent and resulting fees is very real. There needs to be more protection to make sure people don’t lose their homes in the new year because landlords are allowed to charge late fees.
“We need long-term solutions that not only keep people housed, but give them a way to get back on their feet. At a minimum, the federal government should freeze rents and mortgages. We all need a break. No one should have to pay rent or mortgage while they’re unemployed or under-employed. This is the only way we can prevent a housing crisis that will make a recovery difficult if not impossible.”
Texas Organizing Project organizes Black and Latino communities in Dallas, Harris and Bexar counties with the goal of transforming Texas into a state where working people of color have the power and representation they deserve. For more information, visit organizetexas.org.
This press release was sent out September 2, 2020.