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Texas' Hold On Evictions Expires Monday For Half of San Antonio Renters

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Joey Palacios | Texas Public Radio

An eviction moratorium for non-federally protected properties expires May 18 in Texas, putting tenants who are unable to pay rent due to COVID-related job losses at risk of being kicked out. More than 1.9 million Texans filed for unemployment March 15-May 9.

Under the CARES Act, renters in housing covered by federally backed mortgages or those who participate in federal assistance programs are protected from eviction through August 23.

About half of San Antonio's 260,000 rental units are covered by these protections. All others are at their landlords' mercy.

On Thursday, a proposal to extend the grace period for renters facing eviction was killed in a 5-6 vote by San Antonio City Council. Similar ordinances are on the books in San Marcos, Dallas, Austin and El Paso. 

San Antonio's ordinance would have required landlords to give tenants two months to settle overdue rent or come to a payment agreement before filing eviction, or face a $500 fine.

The proposal was met with vocal opposition from area landlords, who say they already operate on very thin profit margins and often have no safety net. There was dissent from council members about potential legal challenges over the city's authority to implement a rule of this nature, as it does not have the power to suspend or limit evictions. 

Area tenants who have been financially impacted by the pandemic can apply for a city assistance program to supplement rental and mortgage payments, food, utilities and internet costs. More than 7,300 residents have applied so far. Temporary housing relief is also available for residents in unincorporated Bexar County and suburban cities outside San Antonio.

What are the qualifications for rental housing assistance and what does the process entail? How much relief is provided per family or individual, and how long will it last? Where does the money come from?

Without additional regulations, will local landlords be willing to negotiate payment plans during this unprecedented time? What protections are in place for landlords facing pandemic-induced debts? If a freeze on property taxes was implemented, would those savings be passed on to renters?

What legal protections and rights do renters have when faced with eviction? Could another statewide eviction moratorium be implemented if the economy doesn't make a quick comeback?

Guests:

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call  833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org  or tweet @TPRSource.

*This interview was recorded on Monday, May 18.

Kim Johnson is the producer for Texas Public Radio’s live, call-in show The Source. She is a Trinity University alum with bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Spanish, and a Master of Arts Degree from the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.