Dallas, Texas — Families across the U.S. don’t know if they’re going to have a place to stay as states challenge the federal moratorium on evictions imposed during the pandemic. The trickle of evictions could soon become a flood as renters owe $53 billion to landlords.
Anthony Upshaw and his 17-year-old son are among those being evicted after Upshaw lost this job early in the pandemic and has been struggling since. Constables placed his belongings in the front yard of the Dallas, Texas, property.
“They going to show up and kick me out. My kid is up here doing his school work. There’s like three weeks of school left before the kids graduate,” Upshaw said.
The Texas Supreme Court lifted the moratorium on evictions on March 31. The Dallas-Forth Worth area has the third-most eviction filings in the country.
“They are going to put everyone out the first chance they got,” Upshaw said, adding that he doesn’t know where he and his son will go. “We haven’t figured that part of it out yet.”
“My goal was just to make it to the end of the school year and then in the summer, we can make plans and try to reassess the national situation, getting vaccinated and then make adjustments to our lives from there. But the moratorium was supposed to protect everybody until the end of June,” he said.
This could be the beginning of an expected tsunami of evictions as. Up the 40 million Americans are at risk of losing their homes, according to the Aspen Institute.
On average, Black renters are twice as likely as White renters to face evictions, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Upshaw’s neighbor Linda Bouie is also being evicted. She has 24 hours to vacate the property and find a place to live.
“I’m worried but I can’t do nothing about it. I can’t keep crying over it,” she said.
Bouie said she would sleep in her son’s car because she doesn’t have anywhere else to go.
Their landlord Peter Tsai said his mortgage is still due even if rent is not being paid. Tsai said he is owed about $25,000 to $28,000 and has been losing money for seven or eight months.
One in seven tenants is behind on rent, according to the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.
“We can still show a compassionate side of ourselves when we do these evictions, but we still have to comply with the judge’s order,” said Chief Deputy Frank Bromley, who works for the Dallas County Constable’s Office.
Upshaw has temporarily moved in to a motel while his son finishes school. He was helped by the Dallas Evictions 2020 Group that provides pro bono legal advice to tenants.