As Rental Assistance Ends, Houston Sees Eviction Filings Rise

More Houston households face evictions as landlords seek to recover back rent accrued during the last two years of the pandemic.

Read Time: 2 minutes

January 20, 2022, 7:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Downtown Houston pedestrians

Oleg Anisimov / Shutterstock

As the funding available for rent relief dries up, more Houston households face eviction and claims for back rent. "In the first week of 2022, the median rent owed was $2,455.70 — the greatest amount since at least 2017 — according to new eviction data from Princeton University's Eviction Lab." Kirkland An reports that as one of the regions that managed to distribute rental assistance faster than many others, Houston and Harris County are down to the last $4 million of their $283 million in rent relief funds, and officials are prioritizing tenants already in eviction proceedings—meaning there's little protection for households teetering on the edge of losing their home.

According to An, "landlords in Harris County are not required to accept rent relief, and can choose to evict their tenants instead." This is leading to crowded courtrooms as eviction courts work through the backlog of eviction filings, which usually peak after the winter holidays. 

According to RealPage, a real estate data analytics firm, rents in professionally managed apartment buildings went up by 10.3 percent in the third quarter of 2021. With the end of federal relief funds and eviction moratoriums and rents continuing to rise around the country even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt daily life and threaten livelihoods, experts expect a wave of evictions. Housing advocates warn that low-income renters will have an increasingly difficult time renting affordable housing near jobs and essential amenities.

Thursday, January 13, 2022 in The Houston Chronicle

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