Media coverage

Texas Observer: The CDC Halted Evictions. Texas Judges Are Proceeding Anyway.

August 17, 2021

When the Texas Supreme Court declined to extend its ruling giving judges the authority to enforce the CDC moratorium, Ally Harris, a community educator with the nonprofit Texas Housers says they essentially “nullified the CDC moratorium without going against the federal government.”

Texas Observer, August 16: “The CDC Halted Evictions. Texas Judges Are Proceeding Anyway.”

Harris County Justice of the Peace David Patronella explained how the Texas Supreme Court ruled not to enforce the CDC moratorium. Therefore courts in the state allowed evictions to continue, even when the tenant complied with the federal law and presented a declaration saying they were covered by the CDC’s moratorium. By July 31, when the CDC’s national moratorium expired, only 12 percent of tenants in Patronella’s courtroom — one of the busiest in the state — had been able to successfully invoke the order to stay in their homes, according to January Advisors, a data analytics company based in Houston. Across Harris Country, the moratorium protected just 13 percent of households who ended up in eviction court.

The Texas Observer reported how many corporate landlords are filing for eviction even as they rake in profits. Based in Dallas, Invitation Homes is the nation’s largest landlord of single-family homes. Since September 2020, the company has filed to evict more than 800 households, including at least 46 in Texas. The company did not respond to the Texas Observer’s request for comment, but on an earnings call in February, CEO Dallas Tanner said the company had maintained rent collections around 97 percent of its historical rate throughout the pandemic. “COVID appears to have been beneficial for demand,” he said. In 2020, the company’s profits grew by 35 percent, to $196 million.

Private Equity Stakeholder Project (PESP) executive director Jim Baker told the Texas Observer that Invitation Homes was one of the “more aggressive” companies. According to data collected by PESP, between September 4, 2020—when the CDC order went into effect—and June 30, 2021, corporate landlords have filed to evict 75,000 households in six states, with nearly 18,500 of the evictions filed in Harris and Tarrant counties alone.

Photo: The Texas Tribune

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