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‘We have a real crisis on our hands’ as eviction filings soar in Fort Worth

A line of apartment buildings in the background with a line of cars in front of the buildings and some plants in the foreground.
Cristian ArguetaSoto
Fort Worth Report
Montecito Club, a property owned by Central Park Apartments, LLC., registered in Florida, filed 16 evictions in June 2021.

Eviction filings in Fort Worth have reached levels higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new nationwide eviction data.

In February, over 3,800 evictions were filed – 36% higher than the pre-pandemic monthly average. The numbers have been higher than the average since February 2022, the Eviction Lab at Princeton University reported.

Adam Chapnik, a research specialist at Eviction Lab, said these rates are not expected to decrease anytime soon.

“Individuals who fell behind on the rent have fallen even further behind and that’s why we’re seeing landlords filing on their tenants at rates that we had not seen before the pandemic,” Chapnik said.

Housing experts said the end of eviction moratoriums nationwide in August 2021and the conclusion of rental assistance in Texas in late 2021 further exacerbated the issue. Vulnerable tenants like single mothers and renters of color are also under additional pressure amid a rising cost of living across the state.

“They’re the breadwinner. They don’t have other forms of income and they have to make sure their children have food,” Chapnik said. “If they’re working a minimum wage job, they’re not going to have the kinds of savings for an emergency and if an emergency happens, they might fall behind on rent.”

For fixed-income renters like 68-year-old Ida Bright, an eviction can happen unexpectedly and rapidly. After her rent was raised and she incurred late fees, Bright found assistance to help her pay her outstanding charges.

But when she presented the money to her apartment management, they declined the money and filed an eviction notice against her the next day.

“(The manager) said, ‘Well, get her some assistance.’ I got her some assistance the same day,” said Jerry Finch, a friend of Bright who spoke on her behalf. “Miss Ida goes down the next day, told them ‘I got some assistance’ and (they told her) ‘I’m just gonna evict you (instead).’”

The demand for rental assistance to avoid an eviction has placed stress on the few remaining resources. Texas closed its rent relief portal two weeks early after over 70,000 applications were submitted within the first 24 hours.

The city of Fort Worth’s rent assistance portal also closed after running out of funds.

“The rent relief program was killed by its own success in many ways,” said Jim Ince, an attorney that specializes in housing with Legal Aid Northwest Texas. “There just wasn’t enough money to go around… We keep hoping that there will be more funding available but right now, the climate doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.”

Fort Worth had more eviction filings than Austin and Dallas in February 2023 with more than 3,800 filings, outranked only by Houston, the state’s largest city. Austin had 760 filings last month, the lab reported, while Dallas had just under 3,000 as of Feb. 25. Houston had over 6,400 for February 2023.

A ‘black mark’ on renter’s record

Eviction filings don’t necessarily mean that an individual or a family will be thrown out, Chapnik said, but more filings mean more potential evictions.

Ben Martin, research director with Texas Housers, a nonprofit organization that advocates for initiatives that support low-income Texans, described a filing as “a black mark” on a tenant’s record, even if the case is dismissed or the tenant wins.

“That filing record can jeopardize tenants’ ability to find housing in the future,” he said.

Bright’s eviction proceeding is still pending, but the impact of the filing is already being felt as she considers moving, Finch said.

“There’s no apartment that’s gonna let you in with a pending eviction,” Finch said. “It’s already gonna hurt her and I’m sure it’s going to continue to hurt her if she wants to move.”

A rise in eviction filings will lead to a rise in homelessness, Ince, the attorney, said, explaining there’s no quick fix to the problem.

“The average person who isn’t struggling thinks we’re past COVID and everything’s fine. Those of us who see it every day realize we’re far from past all this… You’re going to see more signs that things are not working well,” Ince said.

‘The numbers are going up’

Some legislators have made efforts to offer more protections against evictions, including providing more time to pay rent and sealing some eviction records.

The excess state budget and remaining American Rescue Plan funds should be used to fund programs like Texas Rent Relief, the emergency rental assistance program, or for the construction of income-restricted housing, Martin said.

“Renters are the households and families in this state that have the most dire need for assistance, that are the most likely to lose stable housing, to face an eviction and potentially to face homelessness,” Martin said. “We have a real crisis on our hands and we need to address it.”

While some bills have been filed to assist renters facing evictions, there also have been efforts to prevent such protections, including House Bill 2035 and Senate Bill 986 which would prevent cities from being able to regulate evictions.

“The numbers are going up and the solutions are going down,” Legal Aid’s Ince said.

Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member, covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. You can contact her at or on Twitter at @ssadek19.