As Rents Come Due, More Will Need Help

With 40 percent of Texas renters surveyed unsure about their ability to make August rent, more challenges are facing families and the nonprofits and churches that seek to help them.

Jennifer Owen, an attorney and owner of Higier Allen & Lautin, P.C, shared the 40 percent figure during a Social Venture Partners Dallas panel discussion on Aug. 11.

In Dallas, almost $14 million in a program for rental and mortgage assistance was closed in 26 hours after receiving more than 25,000 applications, she added.

Maryann D’Aniello, an attorney with Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, said the CARES Act initially put a moratorium on evictions from March 27-July 25 on certain landlords covered by the legislation.

“While that moratorium has expired, there are still some CARES Act protections for tenants,” D’Aniello said. “For the CARES Act covered landlords, they do have to give, under the CARES Act, a 30-day notice to vacate. So there is a longer notice to vacate if it’s for nonpayment of rent.”

With the expiration of the CARES Act moratorium on evictions, a ‘significant increase’ in evictions is expected toward the end of August and beginning of September, she said.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck the area, local churches have been helping to meet the community’s needs and working collaboratively with other organizations in the area.

Highland Park UMC Communications Director Sharla Jolly said the church served 26 entities through meal distribution, provided masks, and other PPE, led blood drives, and participated in other initiatives.

The church also partnered with Preston Hollow Catering and Sonny Bryan’s Catering to prepare meals for shelters, including Austin Street, Stewpot, Genesis, and Wesley Rankin.

By the end of July, she said members at HPUMC had provided more than 250,000 meals to Dallas ISD students and their families as well as to other agencies and individuals in the community.

“We were also able to distribute gift cards to a few church members and individuals through our local partnerships,” Jolly said.

In 2020, HPUMC also sponsored the building of three newly-constructed homes in the south Dallas area and increased their support by assisting in the Dallas Habitat for Humanity mortgage relief fund, helping families hardest hit by COVID-19.

“Missionally, HPUMC and our church members have been as active as ever. We are fully engaged with our nonprofit partners and reaching out to those who need our hope and help the most in Dallas.” HPUMC senior minister Rev. Paul Rasmussen said.

Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church also cooks and serves dinner monthly to clients at The Austin Street Center, and has provided additional meals for their clients because of increased demand.

Parishioners with Saint Michael and All Angels have donated groceries and other gifts for the Jubilee Park and Community Center neighborhood.

“Through our efforts, SMAA has provided groceries and essential items to more than 300 families,” the church’s website notes.

During August, gifts to Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church Loaves and Fishes campaign were matched dollar-for-dollar up to $100,000, according to the church website.

The church hopes to raise $200,000 during the campaign to support its ministry partners – Cornerstone Baptist Church, the Joy Empowerment Center of Abundant Life AME Church, and Literacy Achieves – as they provide food and housing assistance during the pandemic.

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at rachel.snyder@peoplenewspapers.com

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