Texas aims to help renters whose landlords face foreclosure

After 13 years, Shirley Bowlin had paid more than $80,000 in rent on her small stone house in Sansom Park.

The place was in appalling shape because her landlord had neglected basic repairs. The ceiling had collapsed in one bedroom, and a light fixture was missing in another room. One window was covered by a blue tarp, another by foil-coated insulation board.

Bowlin, 79 and living on Social Security, stuck around because she had no place else to go. Besides, she liked the area.

"I was grandma to the kids in the neighborhood," she said.

In December, she found out that her landlord had not been paying the mortgage on the house. In January, she was served with an eviction suit. She had done nothing wrong, but she was told to move out because her home now belongs to a bank.

"The judge told me there was nothing I could do," Bowlin said.

On Feb. 9, a crew carried her belongings into the front yard. And on Feb. 10, a thunderstorm soaked her possessions.

Texas has always been a tough place for renters, especially those on limited incomes. But the foreclosure crisis has turned thousands of people out on the street through no fault of their own.

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