By Ken Molestina

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) — Legal and real estate experts estimate about half of Dallas residents are renters. They say about 20% of them are behind on their rent due to hardships caused by the pandemic.

Mark Melton is a Dallas attorney with the organization Dallas Evictions 2020, a pro-bono group helping those facing evictions find assistance.

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Melton spoke about how many people find themselves in this kind of trouble saying, “There is probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 to 30 thousand people in the Dallas county area… but it’s a significant number of people.”

While the federal government has extended the current eviction ban until October, Melton says people are still being evicted in Texas.

He added, “On April 1st the state took the position that this federal moratorium just didn’t apply here in the state of Texas, and they’ve been evicting people at the discretion of the landlords.”

So, he along with others who are trying to fight evictions are working feverishly to steer those who are in need help to apply for assistance money that is currently sitting unused in the Texas.

Helton says about half of the nearly 1.9 billion allocated for rent assistance to Texas is still available, and both tenants who are in default as well as landlords who are owed money can apply for it.

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John Siburt is the president of City Square, a community non-profit that helps fight poverty in Dallas. He said, “Eviction is not a win for anybody, and that means the landlords are still going to be out quite a bit of rent and the tenants are going to be out on the streets and now we are going to deal with an epidemic of homelessness on top of everything else.”

That’s why Siburt along Melton and many others are urging people to apply for assistance available to them right now.

Helton added, “We really need to focus on getting rent assistance to people that need it most and bailing out both the tenants and the landlords.”

You can apply for the money with any local assistance group or with the help of a pro-bono legal provider.

Texas Rent Relief

Dallas Debt Relief

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United Way Dallas – Rental Assistance