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Evictions highest in 5 years as rent relief funds in Dallas County run dry

Rental assistance dollars from city and county have all been committed; Observers warn more people could lose their home

Median D-FW home rents
Median D-FW home rents now top $1,900 a month. (Lynda M. González/The Dallas Morning News)(Lynda M. González / Staff Photographer)

By Leah Waters

Dallas County evictions in September reached the third-highest one-month filing total in at least five years, according to the Child Poverty Action Lab, a local organization that tracks local eviction data. Dallas County landlords filed 4,045 evictions in September, with a rate of 90 filings per 1,000 renters since last year.

In August, Dallas County had its highest one-month filing total in at least five years with 4,355 evictions.Through September, 32,890 evictions have been filed this year in Dallas County, an average of 135 per day.

Tarrant County saw 24,399 filings, Denton County had 6,850 and Collin County had 5,661.

Areas of Lake Highlands and far northeast Dallas in the 75243 zip code had the highest number of filings — 3,361 — in September over any other zip code in North Texas.

Prior to the COVID-related eviction moratorium protections, eviction filings followed a predictable, season pattern of a jump in January after the holidays, falling in the spring, a bump again in the summer, followed by a dip in the fall.

“COVID really disrupted that pattern,” said Ashley Flores, senior director at Dallas-based Child Poverty Action Lab. “We expected that they would start to normalize, that they would climb back up. I think what’s unclear is what the new normal is.”

Flores said her agency uses eviction data as a tool to understand the area’s housing stability.

“Presumably if a household receives an eviction filing, there is at least the possibility of them losing their housing,” Flores said. “Obviously, we don’t have the full life cycle of the eviction case. So we can’t say for sure how many will ultimately be displaced.”

The Child Poverty Action Lab also compares elementary school attendance zones with eviction data to better understand the impact of housing instability on children’s education outcomes.

According to the past three month’s data, addresses in the zones near Cochran Elementary, Starks Elementary and Larry G. Smith Elementary had the highest number of eviction filings. Cochran in west Oak Cliff had 146 filings per 1,000 renters; Starks in east Oak Cliff had 143 filings; and Smith in Mesquite had 137.

“We want to be able to identify school communities, those neighborhoods where there is a high rate of eviction filing to make sure that campuses are equipped with the information and resources to share with parents to make sure that they can stay safely and securely housed,” Flores added.

Mark Melton, an attorney with the Dallas Eviction Advocacy Center, said the uptick in evictions is likely a combination of several factors: inflation cutting into people’s incomes, landlords not accepting rent relief money or lease renewals being too high.

“The problem is that there are no cheaper apartments for people to just go move into,” Melton said. “I expect things to get much, much worse. I think all those factors are going to continue.”

Residents in Dallas County seeking rent relief must look elsewhere for help. Both the city of Dallas and Dallas County have committed 100% of their COVID-related funds from the federal government to eligible tenants.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkinssaid Fridaythat the county has helped more than 4,000 households since May 2021.

“But I am concerned about rising rent costs on all of us here in North Texas and what’s going to happen to these families that we’re helping make ends meet so we can keep them in their homes,” he said.

Jenkins said the county is exploring ways to continue helping families pay rent. One of the challenges, he said, is that some landlords won’t accept this form of assistance and instead take new tenants with higher rents.

The city of Dallas’ rent relief program, administered through DHA Housing Solutions of North Texas and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and other partners, allocated last month all its federal funds, according to a city memo.

DHA Housing Solutions will not be reviewing new applications unless new funding becomes available, said spokeswoman Jacqueline Chen. The agency is keeping applications open to continue tracking needs and in the event more funding becomes available.

DHA Housing Solutions opened up applications for a second round of rent relief in August after receiving $19 million from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

The state of Texas’ community housing assistance program is at capacity and not accepting applications.

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