Category Archives: Homeless

Eviction Moratorium close to expiration: What to do now?

In late August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put in place a moratorium to help keep renters in their homes by not allowing landlords to evict people who are covered under the moratorium.

Citizens protected under the eviction freeze must be behind of their rent despite actively applying for other government housing programs in the area. Another requirement is being unable to pay full rent or make a full housing payment due to a major loss of income, layoffs, fewer work hours, or medical expenses that will most likely amount to more than 7.5 percent of the person’s adjusted gross income. Household income in 2020 may be as high as $99,000 or $198,000 for tax returns filed jointly.

If accepted, they will be given a certificate to present to the landlord.

Unfortunately, this moratorium is scheduled to end on December 31, 2020, leaving those sheltered under this program worried about where they will live. The CDC can extend or shorten the date on which the moratorium will expire.

However, there are some City and County resources that are available now and will continue to accept new clients after the moratorium expires.

The City of Irving Rental, Mortgage, and Homelessness Assistance is provided under the umbrella of the Community and Development Department. In order to apply, the applicant and his or her family must live in the City of Irving and be able to provide proof of residence, information about family members living at the residence, proof of income and a valid form of identification, such as a Texas driver’s license, passport or birth certificate that proves that the head of household is a U.S. Citizen or Legal Resident.

In addition, the applicant must provide birth certificates for all minor children and documentation of hardship due to COVID-19. For assistance with rent, a copy of the current lease or a late or eviction notice must be submitted. For mortgage assistance, a copy of the most recent mortgage statement is required.

If the applicant is homeless, the Homelessness Assistance Form available on the City website must be filled out.

For more information on any of these programs, visit CityOfIrving.org.

However, this program is not full of sunshine and roses according to Pat O’Reilly, Board President of Many Helping Hands in Irving, who also works on the Homelessness Task Force.

“Me, Shelia Slade [from Many Helping Hands], and Steve [Allen, Pastor of Christ Church in Irving] and about 15 other people are on the Homelessness Task Force. We met last night, and Steve, who is in contact with Austin Street, said there’s just no way to prepare for the evictions that are happening, if they do go through.

“I just got an email from a friend of mine who is a writer for the Dallas Morning News and he just sent me a letter from the City of Dallas saying that they’re now going to allow “tent cities.” To me, that’s the least somebody needs to do.

“The letter spells out that they’re going to provide bathrooms and hand washing facilities. We provide portable showers in Irving every Tuesday, and that will continue. But we’re talking about [potentially] thousands of people.

“According to City Council, we have 45 people that are homeless on the streets. We know there are more than 150 people living on the streets. According to [the meeting] last night, we’re actually looking at number jumping up to 400 – 500 people.

“The City has continued to turn their back on the homeless community, basically saying that Irving doesn’t have homeless, so we don’t care. I attended a City Council meeting where one member said, ‘If we provide more services, then we will have more [homeless] people.’ Our comeback was, ‘They’re already here.’

“The City of Denton is light years ahead of us. When COVID hit, they provided hand washing stations wherever the homeless were. So, we went and petitioned for Irving to do that and we fought for it and finally got one. It was up for about two months and then somebody stole it, and the City declared they weren’t going to do anything else.

“The City gets all kinds of federal funds to help the homeless. If they don’t use those funds, that money can go to Parks and Recreation. So, they improve a park in South Irving and tell the government that they’re helping the poor.

“We need five councilmen to be pro-homeless, and right now, we have four.”

If the Moratorium does expire on December 31, three to four times the number of the current homeless population is expected to influx each local city.

The Task Force is looking toward corporations with a heart for the homeless to sponsor/donate to the cause, as donations is what they need to “keep the doors open.”

Corporations that may be interested in supporting the Homeless Task Force can email Steve Allen at steve@ccirving.com or call 682-583-3302; Dennis Webb at webbdennis7@gmail.com or 972-849-9421; or Ruby Sevcik (Executive Director at Crisis Ministries) at rubys13@hotmail.com or 972-891-8783.

Thank you in advance for having a heart for the homeless. They are still human beings, and we all know how COVID has affected jobs, income and health, both for tenants AND landlords.

Financially challenged Irving residents face homelessness as assistance becomes hard to find, benefits running out

By Stacey Doud

Jones

Anthony Craig Jones

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.

Shack copyA 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.

RiveraRosa 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.

To learn more about legal aid services in Irving, 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.

Memorial service held for “forgotten” homeless man

JonesAnthony 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 last month 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.

Shack

The building where Jones’s body was discovered

Those who knew him have said that he was a good guy with a lot of problems and no real resources.

“Anthony was a special spirit and it saddens me to hear of the manner in which he was discovered deceased in the old African American Community of Bear Creek recently,” said Anthony Bond, who is a leading Irving civil rights activist and founder of the Irving Chapter of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). “Most of the black residents in Bear Creek, both on the Irving and Grand Prairie side, were familiar with, or knew Anthony. Jesus loves the homeless like Anthony just as much as He loves all of His children.

“I pray that Anthony’s passing will awaken the desire in us here in the City of Irving to do more for our growing homeless neighbors. Irving needs some transitional housing [or something similar] for the homeless,” Bond said.

A Memorial was held for Jones on Saturday, August 8, arranged by Irving City Councilman Dennis Webb, who is also the pastor of Bear Creek Community Church. Webb also officiated. Many citizens came out to remember and pay their respects for Anthony’s life.

Former Irving City Councilwoman Sharon Barbosa-Crain said, “No one should die all alone like Anthony did, and that we here in the City of Irving can and must do better in looking out for our homeless neighbors.”

Pastor Webb has created a GoFundMe account to raise money for services for the homeless in Irving in hopes to avoid another situation like Anthony Jones.

**Slideshow of pictures from the Memorial provided by Anthony Bond**

This slideshow requires JavaScript.