Foreclosures

The Texas Rent Relief Program for Renters and Landlords

The housing department will begin accepting rent relief applications on Feb. 15, and more information is available at TexasRentRelief.com.

Texas launches new program to help tenants behind on rent, utilities

FEB 9, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: FEB 11, 2021

Targeting Texas renters facing financial strain during the pandemic, Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs launched the first statewide rent and utility assistance program Tuesday.

The Texas Rent Relief Program will distribute more than $1 billion allocated to Texas through the latest COVID-19 stimulus bill.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a significant financial strain on many Texans, and the Texas Rent Relief Program will provide an incredible lifeline to households in need of assistance on their rent and utility payments,” Abbott said in a statement. “The State of Texas will continue to provide the resources and support for those in need throughout the pandemic.”

Gov. Greg Abbott, announced Tuesday that the state is offering help to renters facing financial difficulty during the pandemic.

Landlords also can apply for help with unpaid or future rent on behalf of a tenant, who also must sign the application.

To qualify for help paying rent or utilities, households must make no more than 80% of the area’s median income as determined by the housing and community affairs department. The state will give priority to households making less than 50% of an area’s median income and if one or more members have been unemployed for at least 90 days.

The housing department will begin accepting applications for the program on Feb. 15, and more information is available at TexasRentRelief.com.

Renters can submit their application online or by calling 1-833-9TX-RENT (1-833-989-7368) Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Texas Democratic Party spokesman Abhi Rahman called the program “a step in the right direction” that is too little, late.

He noted that the Texas Supreme Court removed emergency protections for renters during the pandemic, allowing eviction and debt collection proceedings could continue in May.

“This should have been implemented last summer, when thousands of Texans were getting evicted to no fault of their own,”

Rahman said in an email.

“Abbott was silent then, and now, with his back against the wall, Abbott is finally choosing to do the right thing. Texans deserve elected officials who look ahead and lead on issues like rental relief, not act only after thousands of lives have already been affected.”

State Rep. Philip Cortez, a San Antonio Democrat and chair of the House Urban Affairs Committee, said the state also should consider additional relief measures, including expanding Medicaid and helping businesses facing economic hardship.

“I do believe that this is a good first step to ensure that Texas families have some sort of relief,” Cortez added.

Last month, Austin and Travis County officials announced a fourth extension of the area’s eviction moratorium, allowing renters who are unable to pay their rent to stay in their homes through at least April.

The state also created the Texas Eviction Diversion Program in October, a pilot program aimed at helping renters who have been sued for eviction during the pandemic.

But the program is only offered in a limited number of counties. Both the tenant and the landlord must agree to participate in the program, and the household’s income must be below 200% of the poverty line.

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The Texas Rent Relief Program for Renters and Landlords
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