LUBBOCK, Texas — Eviction hearings have been on the rise in Lubbock since the Supreme Court of Texas activated hearings on May 19th.
“I’m hearing cases five days a week in some instances, whereas before it would usually be one or two day a week,” said Judge Jim Hansen, Justice of the Peace for Precinct 1.
Due to the circumstances brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic, he said he and other judges are doing all they can to offer resources to residents, such as rental assistance from the City of Lubbock’s Community Development Department.
“They can pay up to three months of rent to certain tenants in certain circumstances and that’s given us an additional resources we didn’t have three weeks ago,” Hansen said. “And so that’s helping a lot of these people to stay on their feet or find other means to pay their rent.”
Erica Hitt, Social Director at the Salvation Army, said they’ve offered assistance to Lubbock residents throughout the pandemic. However, she said not all families and individuals were under the same circumstances and have sought shelter with Salvation Army after the eviction halt was lifted.
“We are dealing with individuals, whether they were affected or not, [who] took that grace period that most of the landlords and that the courts were closed,” she said. “They [had] not paid their rent so when evictions started back up, these households were forced to come up with the last three or four months or rent.”
She said although people have gone to Salvation Army before, this period is different because it presents different challenges.
“The normal is out of the picture. It’s not as easy to go out and find a job,” she said. “A lot of places have not fully opened which means you know they are not hiring the staff that they were prior to COVID-19.”