Mayor Turner details new $15 million rental assistance program for Houstonians that will be voted on Wednesday

City providing rent assistance
City providing rent assistance

HOUSTON – Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner held a news conference on Tuesday to give an update on financial relief that could be coming to renters across Houston if approved by City Council.

Rental assistance program

Turner said City Council is expected to vote on Wednesday on whether to pass the Rental Assistance Program, which would open $15 million to help people cover rent for two months.

The program will include individuals and families who are in danger of being ejected and will help between 7,000 and 13,000 Houstonians, Turner said.

“The need is great within our city and we want to do our part to assist as many families as we can,” Turner said. “Tomorrow this measure will be before City Council members and I am hopeful that it will pass.”

The city is partnering with BakerRipley. According to Claudia Aguirre-Vasquez, the president and CEO of BakerRipley, landlords and tenants will need to apply for assistance.

Once the city approves the program, a website will launch the following day and landlords will be able to apply, Aguirre-Vasquez said. She said BakerRipley will be providing direct funding to enrolled landlords.

According to Turner, the funds are first-come-first-serve, but landlords will have first go. Then, once they have had a few days to apply, tenants will be able to submit their applications starting May 13.

Turner said City Council will also vote to take an additional $8 million from funding provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and put it towards the rental assistance program.

“The hope is to try to prevent families from falling into a state of homelessness and finding themselves on the streets,” Turner said. “That’s the goal, to provide some sense of security.”

Giving Tuesday

Turner spoke about Houston Astros’ Alex Bregman’s fundraiser to help Houstonians in need to get food.

FEEDHOU is a $2 million fundraiser to help the Houston Food Bank provide six million meals. KPRC 2 has partnered with Bregman for the cause. Click here to learn more about the fundraiser.

City furloughs

Due to budget shortfalls, furloughs are expected to take place, but according to Turner, nothing will happen until July 1, which is the beginning of the fiscal year.

“We will see whether or not, between now and then, if congress provides us with any additional flexibility on the dollars that have already been provided through the federal CARES act, which could help to minimize those furloughs,” Turner said.

Reopening doesn’t mean it’s over

Turner also urged people to continue being cautious even though things are beginning to reopen.

Dr. David Persse, with the Houston Health Department, said that before going into an open business, look around and determine if it is a safe place to be.

“You don’t have to be elderly, you don’t have to have chronic medical conditions to be concerned and to take a look,” Persse said. “Even if you are young and healthy, if you should become infected, you then become somebody who could potentially spread the virus to someone else.”

Turner said people should continue to practice social distancing, wearing face coverings and washing your hands.

“Opening up our city or opening up our state does not mean things are normal,” Turner said. “...Just because you look well (and) may feel good, doesn’t mean that you are not infectious.”

Watch the full news conference below:

🔴WATCH LIVE: Mayor Sylvester Turner gives update on coronavirus in Houston

Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Tuesday, May 5, 2020

About the Author:

Daniela Sternitzky-Di Napoli has been a digital news editor at KPRC 2 since 2018. She is a published poet and has background in creative writing and journalism. Daniela has covered events like Hurricane Harvey and the Astros World Series win. In her spare time, Daniela is an avid reader and loves to spend time with her two miniature dachshunds.