HOUSTON — The Houston City Council approved a $15 million rental-assistance program aimed to help Houstonians who have fallen behind on rent payments in April and May during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program passed after a vote Wednesday morning and is expected to assist between 7,000 to 13,000 Houstonians, according to Mayor Sylvester Turner.
“The need is great in our city and we want to do our part to assist as many families as we can,” Turner said.
Funding for the program will come from the 2020 CARES Act passed by Congress earlier this year.
The program will be run by local non-profit Baker Ripely, which will provide up to $1,056 to low- to moderate-income families who have fallen behind on April and May rent.
Turner said landlords can begin applying for relief as early as Thursday with renters able to apply beginning May 13. Money will be made available on a first-come, first-serve basis, the mayor said.
Landlords wishing to apply must agree to certain guidelines, such as agreeing to waive late rent, allow tenants to enter into a payment plan for rent and rescind any eviction notices issued the past two months.
Renters who meet the following criteria can apply for assistance:
- Live inside the city of Houston
- Be late on residential rental payments for either or both the months of April and May
- Be current on their rent for all months prior to April 2020
- Affirm that their inability to pay is due to financial hardship resulting from the economic impact of COVID-19
- Have income less than 80% of the Area Median Income (approximately $40,000 for one person or $60,000 for a family of four) or qualify for one of the programs listed in the application (e.g. Medicaid, WIC, SNAP, Head Start, or VA Pension)
City housing director Tom McCasland said more programs will be needed to help Houstonians over the next six months.
The Texas Supreme Court has put a temporary hold on all evictions until May 18.
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