Eviction concerns rise along with COVID-19 cases

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CENTRAL TEXAS – While positive Coronavirus cases continue to surge across Central Texas – concerns surrounding evictions begin to surge, as well.

Sources say a potential surge in evictions looms as the next big threat to Central Texans related to COVID-19.

Sheryl Swanton is the managing attorney at Lone Star Legal Aid – a nonprofit that serves low-income residents in sevan counties across Central Texas. Their branch in Waco has been getting more engagement lately than they have in recent months.

“People are just having trouble. They’ve lost their jobs, and many times they cant find another job because the economy is not as strong,” said Swanton.

Swanton says Lone Star Legal Aid’s branch in Houston is being flooded with tenants fearing eviction.

Their branch in Houston is seeing a change in demand, but that change for Waco is a little more subtle.

“We’ve had somewhat of an uptick already, and we’re anticipating when the CARES Act deadlines that have just finished, and are about to finish, that we’re going to have a lot more,” Swanton said.

The Federal Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, prevented landlords from evicting tenants through July 24th. The statewide moratorium aimed at addressing evictions expired in June.

Since those buffers are no longer able to serve those it protected, more folks are contacting Lone Star Legal Aid for guidance.

“We’re getting two applications a week now, when we used to get maybe one in a month, and that’s been so far. I suspect we’ll get more in the future,” she added.

Swanton says most people contact them to ensure they are handling their eviction cases with the most up to date policies and procedures.

“Some of them, this is the first time they’ve ever faced an eviction proceeding. And so, they don’t really know what the rules are,” she told FOX44.

For information about how Legal Aid can assist with an eviction case, you can visit http://lonestarlegal.org/

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