HOUSTON — A Houston man was overcome with gratitude by the help he’s getting after his eviction from a Houston apartment complex went viral.
“People aren’t have to help me, but people did it because of their heart,” said Israel Rodriguez on Friday afternoon. “God bless everybody that helped me out.”
Harris County Precinct 1 Constable’s Office showed compassion for Rodriguez, whose story drew national attention when CNN showed video of him and his family being evicted.
The crew shot it before the CDC’s eviction moratorium. Pct. 1 Constable Alan Rosen said his office immediately stopped evicting people following those new guidelines.
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson saw the story and offered to help. So did countless other people.
In response, Rosen created a Go Fund Me page Thursday to help other renters in a similar situation. Donations have since soared past the original goal of $25,000 to more than $87,000 as of early Friday evening.
“It was amazing how people could work together to help me out,” said Rodriguez. “To help me and my kids be a better family, me become a better dad, changed my life completely. I kind of don’t believe it, but it’s real.”
Rodriguez says he and his family are now staying in a hotel. Rosen says they’re in the process of getting permanent housing.
The constable added Rodriguez has received several job offers.
On Friday, Mayor Sylvester Turner again urged people in Houston and Harris County struggling to pay rent due to the pandemic to apply for $60 million in available rental assistance from the city and county relief funds.
“Landlords can still apply, even today,” Turner said on Friday afternoon. “Tenants can still apply, and we’re gonna keep the window open until the money simply runs out.”
Mayor Turner said more than 30,000 tenants and 8,000 landlords had already applied for the money. Each tenant may be eligible to receive up to $2,112 in help.
The mayor is urging anyone who wants to help those renters to donate directly to Baker Ripley, the nonprofit administering the funds.
Mayor Turner said Baker Ripley will be sending the cash assistance to the landlords on behalf of the tenants next week.