Many people are facing eviction as job loss due to COVID 19 pandemic has resulted in a lack of earning opportunities. This is leading them to homelessness and they are left with no place to live. Israel Rodriguez from Houston is also suffering a similar fate as the officers evict their family due to the nonpayment of rent for many months. Even as Israel continues to plead authorities that he has nowhere to go with his family of six kids, they are helpless. Deputy Bennie Gant of Harris County was in charge of the eviction and he still had eight more evictions ordered by the court for the day. As per estimates, nearly 30 million people across America face similar situations amid job losses due to the pandemic.
Israel Rodriguez got several warnings about the eviction from the apartment manager and Harris county court. However, he did not have thousands of dollars to pay the rent and this led to the eviction situation. As the workers put all the possessions of the family on the sidewalk, Israel had a tough time dealing with the situation along with his six children. As the coronavirus pandemic has affected the economic situation of many businesses across the country, it has led to a lot of job cuts. In this situation, the government tried to help the people affected due to the pandemic by offering a weekly stipend of $600 from the Federal CARES Act. This was beneficial for millions of people as they could somehow get along with the situation by paying rent and other important bills.
However, the stipend expired on July 31 and this brought many people back to square one. The eviction moratoriums lifted across the US and many people are on the brink of homelessness due to the economic condition. Considering the gravity of the situation, the CDC issued an order to temporarily halt all residential evictions until the end of the year. This order will come into effect starting Friday and it is expected to provide some relief to millions of people who are on the brink of homelessness. Even though it may not resolve the issue, it will at least put a temporary halt to mass evictions across the country.
According to housing experts, the CDC order definitely helps to provide temporary relief for renters and it is a welcome move. However, it does not stop the eviction crisis in the long run and they expect some support from the government towards rental assistance.
Israel Rodriguez feels guilty about the situation as he says that it was his responsibility to manage things as he was the man of the house. But he could not manage it due to the crisis and job loss. He breaks down as he looks at his six children and says that he has nowhere to go along with his kids. However, he plans to move on with his kids and find some accommodation.
Talking about his situation, Rodriguez says that he came to Houston as he wanted to stay away from the street elements in New Orleans and this had badly affected his upbringing. As he does not own a car, he could not even take his possessions along with him and he just moved on with his family with whatever they could carry by hand. He said that all his possessions are now left behind and it is trash. They did not have any family to get some support in Houston and they moved wherever they could find some shelter.
The deputies who are enforcing such evictions are trying their best to help such people by providing flyers that contain a list of homeless shelters in Houston. Constable Alan Rosen who was part of the eviction team says that he feels horrible to be doing such things. He said that as a human being, it is very difficult to throw someone out of their shelter when they have families. He expects the government to support such people with federal money so that evictions can be avoided in the future.
Rosen handles a team of more than 500 officers who execute the court orders during such evictions. He says it is heart-wrenching to be doing such a job during the pandemic. Even as he continues to pass on orders to his deputies to stick to the rules, he hopes that the federal government will look into a long term solution to this problem. He is also worried that such mass evictions can lead to tensions and it can affect public safety especially when they are dealing with communities in color. He appealed to the federal government to support the renters with additional money so that they can stay in their homes during this economic turmoil.
Deputy Bennie Gant had many such evictions to do for the day and he moved on to his next eviction which was an elderly woman who spoke only Vietnamese. Her landlord had hired a person to move the belongings of the lady out of the apartment. The person hired to move the belongings cried openly as he had no option to support the lady. He said that it could very well be his family tomorrow and it hurts to be doing such a task.
Gant who has been working as a deputy for 35 years says that he would earlier drive evicted residents to the homeless shelters. Even as he was working on his pending evictions, he got a message that the court had cleared a backlog of 200 evictions in the region. He expressed his concern over such things and said that a large number of evictions in one neighborhood leave people with negative repercussions and this can have a bad impact on the community.
The officers, however, feel that the new order to halt evictions till the end of the year will address this issue to some extent. However, something needs to be done to address the root cause of such instability in the long run. Till then, such things will continue to happen every now and then all over the country.