Judge Kenneth Molberg’s courtroom was packed Friday morning to again wrestle over the fate of 1-10 West Dallas families who are due to be evicted from their homes on June 3rd. The case is scheduled for hearing on May 22nd.
This week, however, the court received signatures from a hundred tenants who asked for an extension of the move-out date for a year to eighteen months.
Judge Molberg told lawyers and about fifty tenants he is “terribly concerned about the future of these families.” Although by all accounts, the homes cannot be brought up to code strengthened by the city last fall, the people who live in them pay average rent of about $400 a month. They say they can’t find comparable housing in the area. They are caught in a legal battle between the city, which wants the homes brought up to code, and the landlord, HMK Ltd, which says the homes can’t be brought up to standards and faces fines as a result.
Judge Molberg called the hearing today with two goals in mind: to consider extending the deadline and to address a continuance for a trial date.
Charles McGarry, an HMK partner and an attorney, said HMK is in favor of extending the moveout deadline.
Assistant City Attorney Melissa Miles said she is “not opposed” to a continuance of the trial date and is “open” to an extension of the vacate deadline. But she said it would take her a week to determine if the city could agree to extension.
A busload of tenants came to the hearing in a bus chartered by HMK. I spoke to several of them. In general, they support HMK and blame the city for removing them from their houses.
Judge Molberg was surprised that Attorney Miles would not agree to an extension today. He called another hearing for next Friday.