relief package

New Relief Package Expected to Provide Help

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The new congressional relief package is expected to provide new help for renters affected by the pandemic, but still it is doing little to ease the worries of those facing eviction.

A single mom to four kids, Rebecca Breyel, moved into a new home a few months ago.

Life was looking up until the pandemic left her without a job.

"Stressful to say the least," Breyel said. "I mean you feel like you've hit rock bottom. It's been rough."

With rent overdue and options exhausted, she turned to Dallas Evictions 2020, a group of lawyers providing free legal aide to people facing evictions in Dallas County.

Attorney Mark Melton started the group after volunteering his services at the beginning of the pandemic. To date, Melton said the group has helped 4,500 people.

"While most people are one paycheck away from bankruptcy, these people are one paycheck away from homelessness," Melton said.

The new congressional relief package is expected to provide some help.

NBC News reports it will include $25 billion in rental assistance and an extension on the eviction moratorium to Jan. 31. But even with the deadline extended, tenants still owe back rent and fees and the number of people needing help continues to climb.

"I'm happy to get any assistance we can possibly get but I'm afraid for a lot of people it's too little too late," Melton said. "Twenty-five billion dollar sounds like a lot of money until you have to spread around the country to 40 million people who need it."

Melton and fellow volunteers spend their days representing people at eviction hearings and often spend their nights and weekends buying food for clients or finding them a temporary place to stay.

"We have to pivot our services from legal services to social work," Melton said. "What keeps me up at night are the voices on the other end of the phone that I can't help."

His best advice for those facing eviction? Find a lawyer.

If you live in Dallas County and need help, reach out to DallasEvictions2020.com. If you live in surrounding areas, you can turn to Legal Aid of Northwest Texas for help.

Even with an extension on the eviction moratorium, Melton said evictions are still happening and there is important paperwork renters must file to qualify.

Breyel said with 24 hours of talking with Melton he's now working on a temporary solution with her landlord and she's hopeful more relief will arrive in 2021.

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