Pillow Talk – Advocacy Tip #9 – Know When to Walk Away 

by Perry Pillow, AATC 

Last month, we explored AATC Advocacy Tip #8Know When to Pivot.  This misunderstood and much-maligned tactic has served AATC well over the years. The ability to adapt, to deftly change course, to mitigate ensures short-term and long-term advocacy success. 

This month we explore another difficult advocacy strategy:  Tip # 9:  Know When to Walk Away. Kenny Rogers’ Grammy award-winning song “The Gambler” had this memorable line: “you got to know when to hold’em; know when to fold’em; know when to walk away; know when to run . . ..  Good poker playing and advocacy advice. 

Sometimes, AATC’s only advocacy alternative is to agree to disagree.  Often, our passion for our industry and its issues clouds our ability to grasp political reality:  not everyone likes apartments. Realpolitik requires an understanding that despite AATC’s best efforts we can not change the hearts and minds of elected officials, neighborhood leaders, ad hoc citizen groups, business leaders, and single-family homeowners that believe apartments are necessary evils.     

There is an old, but true saying “never burn a bridge, particularly one you’re standing on.” In the political arena, it is amazing how often you will wake up one day down the road and find yourself a partner in an odd coalition with folks who were for years your adversaries! 

The simple lesson is:  Leave your matches at home!

2020 ELECTION – ENDORSED CANDIDATES:  AATC, TAA, & NAA supporting the below candidates in the November 3rd general election: 

Below is a list of AATC, TAA, & NAA endorsed winners in Tarrant County:

U.S. Senate
John Cornyn (R) – 51%

U.S. House
Ron Wright (R – TX6) – 53%
Kay Granger (R – TX12) – 64%
Beth Van Dyne (R – TX24) – 49%
Roger Williams (R – TX25) – 56%
Michael Burgess (R – TX26) – 61%
Marc Veasey (D – TX33) – 67%

TX Senate:
Jane Nelson (R – SD12) – 62%

TX House
Ramon Romero (D – HD90) – 73%
Stephanie Klick (R – HD91) – 64%
Jeff Cason (R – HD92) – 51%
Matt Krause (R – HD93) – 55%
Tony Tinderholt (R – HD94) – 51%
Nicole Collier (D – HD95) – 100%
David Cook (R – HD96) – 51%
Craig Goldman (R – HD97) – 53%
Giovanni Capriglione (R – HD98) – 68%
Charlie Geren (R -HD99) – 100%
Chris Turner (D – HD101) – 100%

Constables
Jon Siegel (R – P6) – 52%
Michael Campbell (D – P8) – 100%

Arlington City Council
Victoria Myers – 48% (December 8th runoff)

Other significant races that AATC was not involved in:

  • Republican incumbent Sheriff Bill Waybourn (53%)  won.
  • Two long-serving, Tarrant County Republican constables lost:  David Woodruff (P2) and Clint Burgess (P8)
  • Ruby Woolridge (51%) defeated John Hibbs for city-wide Arlington City Council District 6
  • Mansfield Mayor’s race (Newsom – 31% vs Evans – 39%) going to a run-off
  • Chris Fletcher defeating long-time Burleson incumbent Mayor Ken Shetter.

CDC EVICTION ORDER – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) filed an order in the Federal Register on September 1, 2020, to temporarily halt residential evictions to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. The CDC ordered prohibits evictions of renters in residential housing until December 31, 2020.  

The order: 

  • applies to virtually all rental housing providers.  
  • prohibits any eviction action during the covered period; and 
  • states that any person or organization that violates the order may be subject to up to $500,000 in fines per violation and/or jail time. 

The order DOES NOT: 

  • prevent evictions based on the lawful reasons articulated in the order.  
  • prevent housing providers from charging late fees and penalties; and 
  • eliminate the resident’s obligations under the lease,  

For renters to be eligible for the order’s protections, they must provide a declaration under penalty of perjury to their housing provider indicating the following: 

  • The individual has used best efforts to obtain rental assistance. 
  • The individual expects to earn no more than $99,000 (no more than $198,000 when filing jointly); was not required to report income in 2019 to the IRS; or received a stimulus check pursuant to the CARES Act. 
  • The individual is unable to pay their full rent due to several factors that remain unconnected to COVID-19. 
  • The individual is using best efforts to make timely partial payments; and 
  • Eviction would likely render the individual homeless or force the individual to move into and live in close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting because the individual has no other available housing options. 

AATC members can help elevate the need for this eviction moratorium by using the below link to contact their members of Congress and urging them to pass a rental assistance package.   

https://www.naahq.org/advocacy/action-center/advocacy-365?vvsrc=%2FCampaigns%2F77033%2FRespond&fbclid=IwAR03dtw9_xJwalP5eJ5CcL0xAOaKGCybppzmkN0DMhexdwdahOw50xHObTI 

To help housing providers better understand their rights and responsibilities under the order, NAA, in partnership with the Texas Apartment Association (TAA), has prepared preliminary guidance and FAQs 

This guidance is not intended to be state-specific and should be used in conjunction with advice from local legal counsel to interpret these requirements considering existing federal, state, and local eviction laws. 

RENTAL ASSISTANCE – If you have residents that need rental assistance urge them to contact City of Arlington, City of Fort Worth, and Tarrant County housing officials.  You can use the following link to help your residents:  https://www.aatcnet.org/coronavirus.html.  Arlington, Fort Worth, and Tarrant County still have more than $8 million in unused rental assistance funds.  Fort Worth officials have received more than 2,600 applications for COVID-19 rental assistance but have rejected more than 2,100 (80%).  Fort Worth officials assert that these rejections are primarily based on incomplete paperwork and the failure of residents to follow-up. AATC continues to work with the cities of Fort Worth and Arlington, as well as Tarrant County officials on COVID-19 rental assistance programs. These rental assistance funds are limited and are available to assist with rent payments for renters directly affected by COVID-19. Rent payments will be made directly to property owners—not the residents.  

MASKS REQUIRED UNTIL NOVEMBER 30th – Face masks are required in all Tarrant County businesses until November 30th.  Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley issued the new executive order on August 25th as coronavirus cases are increasing rapidly throughout Texas.   

TARRANT COUNTY JP CARES Act EVICTIONS There is good news and bad news about how Tarrant County Justice of the Peace courts are handling evictions under the federal CARES Act. The good news first:  Tarrant County justice courts agree that the CARES Act eviction moratorium ended on July 24th and that 30day Notice to Vacate (NTV) could have been issued as early as July 25th.  Now the bad news: 1) Tarrant County justice courts interpret the CARES Act 30-day NTV to be in effect ad infinitum (it does not expire). For example, if a tenant in a CARES Act covered property paid their rent during the eviction moratorium period and each month after but does not pay December 2020 rent, then a property owner must issue a 30-day notice to vacate. Same for January 2021, February 201, etc. 2) Based on input from an Assistant Tarrant County District Attorney, Tarrant County JP’s are applying CARES Act 30-day notice to vacate to all units if a property only has one Housing Choice Voucher (HCV)! For example, if a 300-unit property only has one all 300 units subject to CARES Act. JPs are basing this on their interpretation of “dwelling” and “covered property” in the CARES Act. 3) The CARES Act 30-day NTV applies for all evictions—except imminent threat. For example, if filing an eviction based on an unauthorized occupant – then you must give 30-day NTV.

Perry Pillow is AATC’s Director of Government Affairs. For more information, contact Perry at pillow@aatcnet.org or call 817-616-0354.