Local nonprofits encouraging renters falling behind to apply for assistance

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HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — Despite the eviction moratorium put in place early on in the pandemic, eviction filings have continued.  

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“Every eviction filing represents a household, and the average household size here is two-and-a-half to three individuals,” CDCB Policy Director Zoraima Diaz-Piñeda said. “So we’re not just looking at raw eviction filing numbers, we’re looking at the impact that these filings have on households— households with children, households with disabled family members, households with elderly family members.”  

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Come Dream, Come Build’s purpose is to focus on providing affordable housing and teaching financial empowerment. 

The nonprofit began collecting data on filings in Cameron County last year to identify how to best assist.  

“To inform the development of sound legislation at the local, state, federal level, as well as influence the development of affordable financial products for the communities that we serve,” Diaz-Piñeda said. 

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In the county, 551 evictions were filed from the implementation of the moratorium to the end of the year. However, of those filings, CDCB can not tell how many led to evictions.  

“Our impetus right now is to ensure both tenants and landlords understand the CDC moratorium and what it covers and that we will continue to see just a stall more or less on eviction filings,” Diaz-Piñeda said.  

For anyone struggling with rent and utilities there are various local and federal programs to assist.  

“Depending on eligibility requirements, if you don’t necessarily qualify for one, we try to make you fit into the others you might qualify,” Loaves and Fishes Office Manager Melissa Gutierrez said.  

Gutierrez said the number of families seeking their service has gone down since earlier along with the pandemic. 

Their homelessness prevention programs range from one-time assistance to months-long.  

“I know the need is still there and we just want to make sure the whole community of Cameron and Willacy county (knows) that the funds are still available and if there are families in need just to give us a call or come by,” said Gutierrez.   

With the supreme court’s recent ruling that evictions may be left to the decision of local JP courts, Loaves said they are prepared for the potential increased need of their services. 

CDCB has been collecting the eviction data quarterly and plans to soon release the numbers for this year so far. 

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