Impact of the Dallas Rental Assistance Collaborative | United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

United Way and Partners Provide More Than $14.4 Million in Rental Assistance Funds

The Dallas Rental Assistance Collaborative has helped prevent thousands of evictions.

 

COVID-19 focused national attention on so many issues that often stay out of the spotlight, such as mental health and the digital divide. Housing is another important topic the pandemic has brought to the forefront.

You’ve likely read headlines about the impending eviction crisis, both in North Texas and across the country. As we approach the two-year anniversary of COVID entering our lives, let’s explore the state of evictions in our region, as well as what United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and our partners are doing to empower people to stay in their homes.

Our Longstanding Housing Crisis

In North Texas, our housing crisis was decades in the making. Even before COVID, the majority of North Texas families were already spending more than half of their paycheck on housing costs. As Ashley Brundage, executive director of housing stability and senior vice president of community impact at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, explains, this creates significant instability for families, especially when new expenses occur or there is a loss of a job in the family.

Then, the pandemic hit and tens of thousands of our neighbors were laid off or furloughed. With their income significantly reduced, many struggled to pay their bills and their rent and still afford groceries, medication and other necessities. Suddenly, a huge percentage of our neighbors—up to 30% in some zip codes—faced the threat of eviction.

A Timely Response

In the early days of COVID, federal relief dollars began flowing to our region to prevent an eviction crisis. The City of Dallas chose us as a trusted partner to lead important work like the Dallas Rental Assistance Collaborative (DRAC), which provides rental and utility assistance so people can stay in their homes.

DRAC enabled us to unite the community around the issue of housing stability. We partnered with a variety of grassroots organizations that are trusted members of their communities and already have well-established relationships with their neighbors, enabling them to quickly receive federal funding and serve their clients without delay.

As Susan Hoff, chief impact and strategy officer at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, explains, preventing evictions is foundational to our work in the community.

“Our housing stability work is central to supporting education, income and health,” she said. “Kids need secure housing in order to do well in school, adults need safe affordable homes in order to get and keep good paying jobs, and the safety and security of home supports physical health and emotional wellness.”

Since its formation, DRAC has had a profoundly positive impact on North Texas. Together with our dedicated supporters, United Way and our partners have provided 4,261 households with rental and/or utility assistance, for a total of $14.4 million in assistance distributed to families.

“Together with our dedicated supporters, United Way and our partners have provided 4,261 households with rental and/or utility assistance, for a total of $14.4 million in assistance distributed to families.”

Eviction Prevention Today

As the pandemic evolves, so does the eviction situation. In September, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled President Biden’s extension of the eviction moratorium unconstitutional. Since then, we’re starting to see a rapid uptick in evictions in North Texas.

Eviction filings have been trending upward since February 2021, with September returning the highest number of filings—2,645—we’ve seen since before the pandemic hit. For reference, in February 2020, there were 3,951 filings.

The fact that eviction numbers aren’t yet back to pre-pandemic levels indicates that eviction prevention measures like DRAC are helping people stay in their homes. However, with the eviction moratorium over, it’s likely that we’ll see more people kicked out of their rentals every month.

And while hiring has improved throughout 2021, today renters are also facing higher costs. According to data from RealPage, rents rose 10.3% nationwide in the third quarter of the year alone. Landlords are eager to make up money lost during the height of the pandemic, so they’re increasing rent on existing tenants. Or, in extreme cases, landlords are purposefully pricing their current tenants out of a property so they can market the home or apartment at a much higher price—leaving some renters with nowhere to go.

Like so many other aspects of the pandemic, evictions are affecting women and Black residents the most. Current data shows us that 69% of households accessing rental assistance are Black and 71% have female heads of households.

“Housing instability and homelessness are inextricably linked to long-standing racial disparities and have been amplified during the pandemic,” Brundage explains.

However, there’s hope, she says: “Unprecedented federal resources have been made available during the pandemic that can be mobilized to address housing instability and homelessness. We need everyone’s help spreading the word about the availability of rental assistance. Together, we can improve access to housing stability for our neighbors.”

Be Part of the Change

It’s going to take all of us, united, to ensure our neighbors make it through this unprecedented crisis. Here are a few ways you can join the movement:

Share this link on social media to help spread the word about rental and utility assistance: unitedwaydallas.org/rental-assistance

Make a donation of any amount to support our eviction prevention work.

Find a volunteer opportunity that supports your fellow North Texans, such as our upcoming Digital Skills Training Program or our food pantry drive.

Access Rental Assistance

Are you and your family facing eviction? You can still apply for housing assistance. Learn more here.

 

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ABOUT UNITED WAY OF METROPOLITAN DALLAS

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United Way of Metropolitan Dallas is a social change organization that unites the community to create opportunity and access for all North Texans to thrive, challenging the systemic barriers associated with race. Together with our committed change-seekers, we are mobilizing a movement for lasting change, to ensure all our neighbors have access to education, income and health—the building blocks of opportunity. We invite you to Live United and be part of the change right here at home.

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This article was published on: Oct 27, 2021