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As Due Date for August Rent Approaches, Worry Sets in for Unemployed North Texans

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Anxiety is high for many North Texans as Aug. 1 approaches.

Rent will soon be due and unemployed Texans are facing a big drop in benefits.

Making matters worse for many: protections put in place to delay or protect against evictions are ending.

“I’ve worked too hard to be in this situation,” SheQuice Roberts said. “I was not raised to wait on someone else to put food on my table. I was raised to get out there and get it on my own.”

The 36-year-old Oak Cliff resident is depending on others for the first time after she was laid off from both of her jobs in the spring.

She said getting back to work driving school buses and rental cars has been impossible.

“They tried to find stuff for us to do but due to COVID and rising case numbers they keep canceling every time,” she said.

Roberts said when she filed for unemployment, her account was hacked, leading her to lose out on benefits until the situation was fixed.

“I just started getting my benefits again and now the extra $600 was taken away. So today I got paid but it was $1,000 less than what I was getting and rent is due,” she said.

Roberts reached out to the Texas Tenants Union for advice.

The organization provides tenant rights education and refers people to available resources with the goal of keeping people housed.

“We’re very concerned that there may be an explosion in homelessness if the policymakers don’t step up to fix the situation,” said Sandy Rollins with Texas Tenants Union.

She’s especially concerned about the $600 a week federal unemployment benefits that have expired and because there are indications Congress might replace it with $200 bonuses.

A federal moratorium on evictions at properties with federally backed loans has also ended.

Dallas County has postponed non-payment evictions filed after July 6, she said.

However, that moratorium ends August 5.

Rollins said those struggling to make ends meet should contact Congress and demand that lawmakers implement long-term eviction moratoriums and rental assistance.

“Some landlords will work with tenants and some won’t,” she said. “We’ve seen people offer rent as soon as their unemployment benefits came through and the landlord just said, 'No, I’m going to evict you anyway.'"

While not currently facing eviction, Roberts said she fears losing her home of two years.

“My kids, they can go with their dads if it comes to that. But where am I going to go?" she asked. “It’s really sad.”

The city of Dallas approved a 60-day delay in the eviction process, giving renters more time to find a solution.

Other North Texas communities don’t have this protection, meaning renters will have less time to act.

Dallas County residents living outside the city of Dallas can apply for short-term rental, mortgage and utility assistance.

Dallas County Health and Human Services is taking applications until Aug. 20.

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