Salvation Army expects ‘massive wave’ of homeless families when eviction moratorium ends


AUSTIN (KXAN) — The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many people to the brink of homelessness, and while the eviction moratorium is still in place, experts say once it ends we could see a surge of families without a place to live.

“We are doing what we have to do to get by,” said Scott Duncan, who spent his day asking people driving by on Lamar Boulevard for money. “We got laid off during the pandemic, my wife and I both, and she has a 4-year-old daughter.”

Duncan has never experienced homelessness, but now he’s struggling to keep food on the table and a roof over his family’s head.

“I do odd jobs here and there, and whenever I need to close the gap, sometimes I will come out and depend on my community,” Duncan said.

With the pandemic causing some people to lose their jobs, the thought of becoming homeless isn’t just on the mind of Duncan and his family.

“It speaks to the number of people that are really struggling right now,” said Jason Whaley with the Salvation Army-Austin Metropolitan Area Command.

Whaley says as time goes on, he expects to see more people end up without a place to call home.

“We expect to see a massive wave of people when the moratorium is lifted, and it is going to force a bunch of people out of their stable housing and it is going to be a huge problem here in Central Texas,” Whaley said.

Whaley says about 75% of the people they are helping are women and children.

In Williamson County, they have seen a 60% increase in requests for rental and utilities assistance.

Even with an eviction moratorium, people are still losing their homes, Whaley said.

“We are seeing people getting evicted from different parts of Central Texas,” Whaley said.

Couple job losses with higher rent prices, and the outcome will only force more people out of their homes.

“The wages people make just don’t keep up with those rising rent costs,” Whaley said.

Duncan says he will keep doing what he has to keep his family fed and housed. He has even set up a Venmo account, Scott-Duncan-68, so people driving by who want to help him out don’t have to stop during the pandemic.

“It terrifies me,” said Duncan.

There are programs set up to help people who need assistance during this time. The Salvation Army has linked a few resources to help people in need.

The City of Austin has $25 million to give out to people financially impacted by COVID-19 to help pay rent. The application process started in March.

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