‘The need is great in our community’: rental and eviction assistance needs soar beginning of 2021

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Yellow facial mask laying on top of the eviction note

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – El Pasoans are applying for rental assistance in record numbers with the start of the new year and more funding is needed.

Laura Ponce, executive director of Project Bravo said 1100 households sent applications to the non-profit for assistance.

“In just one week of activity we’re seeing that there is a lot of need out there,” said Ponce explaining how they had to cap the number of applications starting January 11 until more funds arrive.

Last year, the rental and mortgage assistance program aided 369 households with a total of $650,000.

The assistance was offered for three months, but has now been extended to six months in order to help families catch up with bills that have been piling up throughout the year.

Many households unable to pay rent have been pushed all the way to the eviction process which requires a more expedite assistance.

Those facing eviction are able to apply for the Texas Eviction Diversion program created for households that have an eviction process already pending in court.

Eligibility for this program is not determined based on COVID-19 effect on your financial hardships, but whether you have received an eviction notice and the eviction has been started in court.

Your eviction cannot be caused by damages to the property or criminal activity in order to be eligible.

“People should be seeking for those resources and taking advantage of the because it’s going to help them stay housed and stop the spread and it’s going to help the local economy,” said Veronica Carbajal, attorney at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.

Carbajal explained eviction is any action towards physically removing the tenant from the property.

She said many landlords are shortening leases of their tenants to be able to sell their property on the market.

In this case, she explained, the landlords cannot change the lease arbitrarily without a legal cause.

Even after your lease expires, she said, you still have the right to live on the property on a month-to-month basis.

” For the landlord to terminate the lease they have to give you a month’s notice,” said Carbajal.

For more information about your rights during an eviction you can visitTexas RioGrande Legal Aid and for the application process for rental assistance or Texas Eviction Diversion visit Project Bravo.

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