Texas rent relief portal reopens applications for two weeks

Texas has made payments to more than 315,000 households to date.


A rent relief program that began at the beginning of the pandemic has reopened, and is giving Texans the opportunity to apply for rent money and utility bills.


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A portal created at the beginning of the pandemic giving Texans the opportunity to apply for funds to help pay rent and utility bills has reopened.

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs says applications are open just for a limited time, from March 14-28.

The state has about $96 million remaining in it's rent relief fund, which has provided over $2 billion in emergency aid since 2020. It initially closed in November 2021.

“The average payout has been somewhere around $6,500 or so in the past, but we’ve had some big ones for people that were way behind and hadn’t yet gotten evicted,” Bobby Wilkinson, Executive Director, Texas Department of Houston and Community Affairs, told Houston Matters on Monday.

Texas has made payments to more than 315,000 households to date, and prevented more than 21,000 evictions. Wilkinson said in order to be eligible, a household need to be financially within 80 percent of their area's median income or below, and they must be renters.

“Our preference is to pay the landlord directly, or the utility provider directly. That seems to make the most sense, and is the most efficient. But if we can get in touch with that landlord, or they don’t want to participate, we’re going send that check to the tenant,” Wilkinson said.

First-time applicants may be eligible to receive up to 18 months of rent and utility relief this time around, either with past due payments, or a combination of past due and up to three months of current and future payments, made on their behalf.

Wilkinson said they have already received over 4,000 applications on its first day and they are first-come-first-served, but eviction applications will be prioritized.

Local housing advocates are praising the move to reopen, saying the need for assistance on month to month expenses is still great, as the impacts of the pandemic continue to drag on. Texas Housers says 270,000 evictions were filed in the state of Texas in 2022. Advocates say even more can be done to prevent further evictions.

Erin Hahn is a research analyst with Texas Housers. She said although it’s been three years since the COVID-19 pandemic started, it still makes sense for money to be distributed for assistance.

“Renters are definitely still struggling in the fallout of the pandemic,” she said. “In 2022 we saw a huge spike of evictions in Texas. Over 270,000 were filed in the state of Texas in 2022, which is a huge rise from previous years.”

After funds are exhausted, Hahn said they are hoping for more tenants’ rights laws and additional funding from the State of Texas.

“The Texas Legislature is currently making decisions on how to spend a $32 billion budget surplus. And they also have $5 billion in remaining American Rescue Plan funds that they have to spend this session,” Hahn said. “These funds could be used to replenish Texas rent relief.”

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