From one home to another, Deputy Benny Gant of the Harris County Constable offices is executing judge’s orders to evict residents. Forty million Americans are facing eviction due to the downward spiral of the Covid-19 economy.
Where Do They Go?
Israel Rodriguez of Harris County was of one of the residents on Deputy Gant’s list. “We don’t have nowhere to go,” says Rodriguez. Forced to leave the apartment was his brother, 20-month old son, a four year old and their mother. Rodriguez admits that he’d fallen behind by thousands of dollars after losing his job due the Covid-19 shutdown. With just the clothes on his back and a stroller full of some of his kid’s belongings, Rodriguez explains how it took him about a month to find a job that still doesn’t make ends meet.
Most of the world is still trying to make it through day by day. Returning to a sense of normalcy may be far off during this pandemic, and there are many still struggling to make ends meet.
A Tough Way to Start Your Day
With 8 evictions on the list to serve in the morning, Deputy Gant, an officer of 35 years, has the daunting task and describes how difficult it is for him. “I don’t really wanna put her out here but I have to, under the judge’s order,” says Gant. Two Hundred evictions has come through his office this week alone.
“I’m a father of 6 children and when I see a mom and dad in a desperate situation it’s tough,” said Deputy Gant.
People behind on rent are ordered to leave immediately, scurrying up what they can gather as quickly as possible.
Fransico Munoz, the landlord’s mover, is seen crying as he carries out his job, removing the remaining belongings of an elderly woman being evicted. “I have a family. I have a sister. I have you know my mom. We never know, maybe today it’s her, tomorrow me.”
The elderly woman sat on her dining room chair on the sidewalk outside in the triple-digit Houston heat.
Deputy Gant managed to secure a one day reprieve for an elderly lady that was on the list. She simply could no longer afford the rent and had nowhere to go. “I’m not gonna put her out here in this heat, it’s too dangerous,” says Gant.
Is Help On The Way For These Residents?
“I am calling on the federal government to put additional money locally so that we can continue to help people with rent so that they don’t get kicked out,” said Aldan Rosen who oversees a staff of 500 in Harris County Presint 1. “We don’t want this. This is no one’s fault,” Rosen pleads.
Just this past Tuesday evening the CDC announced a new federal eviction moratorium immediately placing evictions in Harris County’s Precinct 1 on hold. The county attorneys are reviewing how to interpret the new federal guidance.
“These interventions work,” said Benfer. “They are no-brainer, logical kinds of interventions. But when you remove them, and you haven’t addressed the root causes — of the instability and the inability to pay and the lack of living wages or sustainable jobs — it’s going to keep increasing.”