HOUSTON — Help is on the way for Houston renters. The city and county have teamed up to offer $159 million in rental relief.
Applications opened Thursday morning.
Alice Frazier said with her 9-year-old granddaughter to think about, she always makes sure to pay her rent.
“You got to have a place to live, you can’t survive without it,” she said.
Even if it means giving up other things.
“I have to back up on some things, lack some things that we might need. I have to manage and budget myself,” Frazier said.
Like so many others in the Houston area, Frazier needs help. She says she will be applying to receive some of the rental relief fund money.
“This program really can set you free from your rental debt for good,” Cristina Cave said.
Cave is a community relations manager at BakerRipley.
How to sign up
The fund is processed through BakerRipley and Catholic Charities. It's available through this website: http://houstonharrishelp.org/.
Registration is now open — again, it is not first come, first serve so there is no need to try and be the first to sign up.
You'll need to enter your household information, location and past-due rent amount. You also need to provide documentation to prove income, COVID-19 impact and housing instability.
To qualify, your household income must be at or below 80% of the median family income. For example, for a family of four, income must be at or below $63,050.
“What we want is to help those with the biggest need, that is going to be our priority,” Cave said.
The rent money will go straight to landlords who will have to credit renters' accounts within five days. They also must stop pursuing eviction and legal action.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said money to help those affected by last week's winter storm is on the way.
“For people who don’t have insurance, who don’t have financial means. And, quite frankly, we know that federal help is coming but people need those dollars spent on their homes to try to get their homes repaired, like, right now, like, yesterday,” Turner said.
The city has already raised more than $5 million. It is hoping to get money to those who need it now.
You can still donate, but applications to receive assistance haven't opened.
For now, you can text "HOUSTONFREEZE" to 898211 and they will let you know when you can apply for the money.
For those without internet access, the organizations opened a special phone line where you can call to apply or ask any questions. Call 832-402-7568 for help.