Health

“We don’t have much, but this is our home.”

Dallas — Juana, a 52-year-old Mexican immigrant who has lived in the northwestern part of the city for over a decade, carefully packed photos of her family decorating the walls of a one-bedroom apartment when the phone rang. ..

It was about 3 pm and her landlord gave her to pay her about $ 12,000 in rent until 5 pm. The next morning, the landlord submitted a warrant of possession to the police officer, expelling Juana and her husband from the house they had shared for almost a quarter of their lives.

“My hands were shaking,” Juana said in Spanish, remembering the moment she picked up her cell phone. She felt hope — the phone might be the answer to her prayer for emergency assistance — but she was also scared. “Once we were kicked out, we didn’t know where to sleep the next night.”

The call was from Sara Albay, a resettlement service specialist at the Catholic Charities in Dallas.

“Tell me I was approved,” Juana pleaded. “I heard in her voice that she was happy, so I thought it was good news.”

Alrubaye said the agency will cover Juana’s back rent. In fact, she could come to receive a check whenever she was ready. Juana looked up at the clock. She didn’t own a car, so getting on the bus to and from the Catholic Charities could take as long as two hours.

“I rushed to the bus stop and prayed all the time,” Juana said.

At least 3.4 million people nationwide could be expelled within a few weeks, according to a June Census Bureau survey.

As of May 31, state and local grantees had provided only about $ 1.5 billion of the $ 46 billion that Congress had allocated to emergency rental assistance programs, according to the US Treasury. The program will help households financially damaged by the pandemic pay rent and utilities, and prevent the wave of peasant standing when the federal peasant eviction moratorium ends on July 31. I am.

When time runs out, most states and cities have partnered with community organizations to reach hit areas like Juana, where language and technology barriers prevent some lessees from accessing aid. According to Ashley Brandage, executive director of housing stability at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, another non-profit organization working with the city, Dallas received $ 40 million through the program, including Catholic Charities and others. We have partnered with 15 nonprofits.

“We are spending money faster than we can get it,” Brundage said. “But we know that there are still pockets for people who don’t yet know that support exists.”

For Juana, help came short of time.

Fifteen minutes before the 5 pm deadline, she was still at least 30 minutes away from the apartment. She called the rental office and begged for more time, but didn’t expect a break. At 5:15, Juana was out of breath and rushed into the office — and was greeted with cheers. She was able to protect her house.

Live in the shadow

Juana and her husband legally came to the United States 13 years ago, but they exceeded their visa because their new visa was denied. Since she lives illegally here, Juana asked Stateline not to publish her surname or husband’s name.

According to the Texas Rent Relief Program website, tenants applying for an emergency rental relief program do not need to provide a Social Security number to prove that they are legally in the country.

The couple always lived from salary to salary and earned very little enough money to cover all their living and medical expenses. Juana had been on dialysis for almost 10 years until August of last year when she received a kidney transplant.

The American Association of Kidney Disease Patients helped Juana pay for her health insurance, but stopped after surgery and left a $ 1,400 / month drug bill to prevent her body from rejecting the transplanted organs. ..

“I didn’t expect to get a kidney, especially because of my immigrant status,” Juana said. “It was unexpected, but we put it in the hands of God and made it work as much as we could.”

At that point, the family was already behind in rent. In April 2020, Juana and her husband became infected with COVID-19. Juana suspects she may have given her to her husband after being caught at a dialysis clinic. It took my husband two months to fully recover, and another month to find a job after being fired for illness.

In Texas, about 80% of 455,000 households with stagnant rents are low-income or made up of people of color. According to the National Equity Atlas, a data and policy tool managed by the University of Southern California Equity Research Institute and research firm PolicyLink, Texas has a 13% share of rent-lagging renters, about the same as national rates. ..

Prior to the pandemic, the proportion of renters in Texas and across the country was about 7%, according to a 2017 US housing survey.

Go to court

In late August, a few days after Juana was discharged after the transplant, a police officer in an English-speaking uniform knocked on the door. Police officers told her that she and her husband had 24 hours to pay about $ 5,000 to rent or be kicked out.

Still recovering from surgery, Juana dressed up, slowly and painfully trekked down the stairs, across the parking lot to the administration office.

The clerk noticed her discomfort and asked what was wrong. Juana told them that the police had just told her she had to leave within 24 hours. She explained that she had a payment plan with her manager. They told her that the manager was no longer working there.

According to Juana, the new manager said Juana and her husband would be kicked out unless they paid the full amount.

The following month, an investment company that owns a complex of hundreds of houses where the couple lives applied for eviction of the peasant farm. Juana’s husband, who was the only person nominated by court order, appeared in November before a peasant eviction judge. During the hearing, the judge asked if he and Juana were affected by COVID-19 and talked about the state’s eviction moratorium. The judge also said that it was up to the landlord to make a repayment plan.

Juana said the new manager will not receive the $ 200 or $ 300 paid every other week. “She wanted full or full payment,” Juana said.

By February, the couple had borrowed over $ 10,000 in backrent. Juana recovered from the surgery and was trying to find as much help as she could. Then one day she heard about Dallas’ rental assistance program. With the help of people in the leasing office, Juana applied for relief but was rejected.

After being rejected, Juana’s landlord filed another eviction proceeding against her and her husband. In early June, Juana joined her husband and appeared in front of Justice of the Peace Sarah Martinez. They arrived at 9am and were taken to a small office that told them where the judge’s staff could find free legal aid. But Juana told Stateline that the group she called told her that she was ineligible as an illegal immigrant.

Martinez said she couldn’t help them because the state’s moratorium on eviction of peasants had ended, and according to Juana, it was entirely up to the landlord to continue peasants.

If Juana lived in almost every other state, she could have been protected by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Moratorium, which lasts until July 31st. However, Texas ended the Moratorium this spring and declared that the CDC order was invalid.

“I told her I wouldn’t miss a payment until COVID-19 rushed into our house,” Juana recalled the hearing. “We didn’t invite it. We didn’t go looking for it.”

According to court documents, the judge ruled in favor of the landlord and set the date of June 9 for the company to file a warrant of ownership.

Tips from tv

Juana cried all the way home. Her husband tried to comfort her, promising to find a place for them to live temporarily. That afternoon, they rented a storage room and started packing. When Univision’s “Contigo en la Comunidad Dallas” show began on Sunday morning, Juana was filling the box with the TV on in the background.

A segment focused on rental support. Juana didn’t pay much attention to knowing that she was rejected, but when a representative of the United Way in Dallas said that money was available to immigrants living in the country without legal permission, she said she was The website at the bottom of the screen where I picked up the phone and took a picture.

She learned that Catholic charity was helping people apply for her area and called them. When she told them she faced a warrant of ownership orders in two weeks, they told her to appear at a pop-up event in northern Dallas next Saturday.

Juana couldn’t sleep on Friday night. Instead, she prayed and counted as the plane entered and exited the nearby Dallas Love Field Airport. Shortly before sunrise, she told him that she should wake her husband up and leave immediately to defeat the expected crowd.

There were already two couples in front of them when they appeared at 7am.

Juana and her husband were greeted by a Spanish-speaking volunteer who helped check their documents and fill out the application form. They took less than 45 minutes to handle her rental relief as well as get her money to pay for her water bill.

“It was very easy and everyone welcomed me very much,” Juana said. “I call them my guardian angels because I got lost without them.”

Juana told them about her pending warrant of possession next Friday, and they promised to facilitate her application and keep posting to her about any progress. The only document that Juana and her husband lost when the application was submitted was a letter certifying employment, explaining how COVID-19 was financially affected.

“We had hope, but if we were rejected again, we were mentally ready,” Juana said. “But I knew that God was watching over us.”

As she packed up, she remembered all the memories she and her husband shared at 700 square feet in their apartment. The day she learned about the transplant, the time her children and grandchildren came from Mexico to fall asleep spread across the floor of the living room. When the ceiling leaked, leaving loose peanut-shaped stains on the plasterboard on the dining room table, the landlord did not fix it.

“We don’t have much, but this is our home,” Juana said.

“This is where our church is. You can take a bus to anywhere in the city. Sams, Wal-Mart and Target are right there and you can easily walk when your husband is at work. You can buy groceries. “She added.

“I can’t imagine living anywhere else,” Juana said. “It’s the place where God wants us to live. It’s more obvious to me than ever before.”

Juana, 52, in Dallas, faced eviction by paying a backrent of nearly $ 12,000. In June, Juana and her husband received money from the Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program through a local nonprofit organization. Had they not been bailed out, they would have been kicked out of their apartment.

Family fights threat of eviction of peasants to stay in apartment



“We don’t have much, but this is our home.”

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