By Stacey Doud
Anthony Craig Jones was known around the Irving area for almost four decades as a local homeless person that residents often saw as they drove or walked through town. He was most likely mentally ill but was a peaceful person.
His body was discovered in July in a building on a property across from an elementary school. The medical examiner estimated that he had been dead for about six months. He was identified using his dental records.
No one knows exactly what happened, but Jones was found under a blanket in a sleeping position. His death is not currently considered a homicide, and there is no information about any involvement with drugs and/or alcohol. He was estimated to be in his late 50’s at the time of discovery.
A Memorial was held for Jones on August 8, organized and officiated by Pastor Dennis Webb of Bear Creek Community Church. Those who knew Jones said that he was a good guy with a lot of problems and no real resources.
Irving, like most cities and towns, has a percentage of the population that has no address except for a sidewalk or a park bench. There are some resources for food and clothing, including some churches that open up as emergency shelters, and there’s even very limited housing for homeless teens, but there is no shelter or “one-stop shop” for those in dire straits to visit. As it is difficult for the homeless to move around from place-to-place, even these resources can be out of reach.
However, these days, even residents who have homes or apartments are struggling with rent and mortgages, and some have even joined the homeless population, whether it be for a short or an extended time.
Right now, this is not a situation that is unique to Irving. It is a state and nationwide issue. From real estate fraud to scams that take advantage of the collective fear of COVID-19, folks are seeking help from landlords and banks, only to be told, “No,” or to have a fraudulent plan suggested to them to, “keep a roof over your family’s head.”
There have been people in drastic situations that have taken their financial needs to the Internet. Sites like GoFundMe.com are experiencing a significant uptake in the number of fundraisers posted.
Rosa Rivera, a local resident, started a GoFundMe account after her apartment management gave her a 30-day eviction notice. She is unemployed because of the pandemic and her husband has been in and out of the hospital, finally losing a foot to complications of diabetes. He was the sole provider for the family at that time.
The description in her fundraising account lays out not only her need, but her embarrassment for having to ask for help as well, which is very common.
“I’m reaching out to all my family and friends for help. I currently find myself in an embarrassing and humiliating situation that I never thought I would be in,” said Rivera. “As a strong woman, we will try every last avenue to solve an issue until you have to humble yourself and realize that you have to ask for help because it’s what’s best for your kids.
“My apartment complex of more than 10 years provided me with a 30-day notice to vacate my apartment. The property manager will not renew my lease because of me consistently being late on my rent. I have tried to make arrangements with both the leasing office and the Corporate office with no results,” she posted.Fortunately, Rivera was able to contact an effective lawyer at Legal Aid and get her eviction deadline pushed back from 8/20 to 8/31. She updated her fundraising site to update those that had been helping. She used a portion of the $3,000 raised on GoFundMe to negotiate this change.
“My attorney in Legal Aid finally made contact with the property manager, allowing me more time. Instead of vacating on 8/20, I now have till 8/31. Of course, I had to pay the rest of the rent [which was] $461, which is where some of your blessings were applied to. I’m still looking for a place to accept me with my situation,” she posted.
Rivera is far from being alone. Many families are wondering where they will go, as many landlords and banks/mortgage companies are not working with customers in an effort to reach a compromise, or an agreement, that will benefit both parties.
For more information about coronavirus scams, click HERE.
To read some tips for personal financial recovery under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and. Economic Security Act (CARES), click HERE. The CARES Act deals primarily with businesses right now, but there are some helpful links to sites that may assist homeowners or renters find aid or recover their finances.
And, of course, there is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which helps place families in need of housing. Unfortunately, their waiting list is fairly long because of COVID. To learn more, click HERE.
While this housing climate is not unique to Irving, it is up to the City’s “Powers that Be” to craft a plan for aid, resources, and perhaps even shelters, as November is quickly approaching.