HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — Many people are not on board with the Texas Supreme Court's decision to resume evictions and debt collections.
One of those people being Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.
On Monday, Judge Hidalgo released a statement saying she was "deeply disappointed" with the court's decision to remove emergency protections halting eviction and debt-collection proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Restarting eviction and debt-collection proceedings right now will only deepen the well of desperation many families are experiencing across our county. These are hard-working families who, through no fault of their own, have lost irreplaceable income during this pandemic and may not qualify for federal assistance or eviction protections," Hidalgo said.
The decision to reverse emergency protections on evictions and debt collections came last week after the court temporarily put both on hold during the coronavirus pandemic.
The court said eviction hearings can be held as soon as Tuesday, with orders authorizing evictions allowed starting May 26.
This does not apply to certain tenants who are protected through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, including renters in homes covered by federally backed mortgages. Tenants covered under that federal moratorium have protections through Aug. 23.
Similarly, debt collectors can again garnish accounts starting later this month.
Judge Hidalgo said thousands of Harris County residents are already struggling with finances and becoming homeless will only crush their chances for recovering.
"Evicting families is also a threat to public health - we’re working day and night to stop the spread of this virus and, at a time when we’re asking residents to stay or work from home to limit spread, we cannot afford to contribute to a surge in homelessness."
Harris County has awarded $10 million to small businesses hurting from the coronavirus crisis.
On Tuesday, Harris County Commissioners Court will vote to finalize a relief fund to be administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation to help vulnerable residents who are undergoing financial hardships due to the COVID-19 crisis.
If approved, this relief fund will provide short-term emergency disaster relief for qualifying applicants’ basic needs, which can include rent, mortgages, utilities, food, medical, childcare, transportation, and other expenses, Hidalgo said.
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