95ºF

Harris County commissioners to provide additional $10M in rental relief to struggling families

Families are still struggling to keep a roof over their heads amid the coronavirus crisis. Harris County commissioners annnounced more help is on the way for people still behind on rent.

Harris County resident Kevin Jackson found himself behind rent and in eviction court Wednesday morning. Jackson owes $1,800 in rent for the months of May, June and July. He said he was laid off from his job in the middle of the pandemic.

“I was here because I got evicted for non-payment of my rent. Because of my unemployment, it took some months for my unemployment to kick in and it was just hard,” Jackson said.

Judge Joe Stephens, Justice of the Peace for Precinct 3, gave Jackson until August 10 to catch up on overdue rent. It is an opportunity Paula Morales wished her friend had.

Morales co-signed on a lease for her unnamed friend. The woman lost her job and was evicted from her apartment earlier this month over $2,100. Morales said they weren’t even given a change to explain the situation to the judge.

“This situation is just really sad because she doesn’t have anywhere to live. She’s living in her minivan with her two girls,” said Morales.

Harris County Commissioners voted to allocate $10 million to help families with rent. Earlier this month, the $15 million allocated for rental reimbursement evaporated quickly due to enormous demand.

“We knew we were going to impact roughly 20,000 families but yet over a half a million applied for assistance,” said Harris County Pct. 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia. “We want to make sure that people understand that we’re not going to be able to help everyone.”

Garcia said the details surrounding the application process are still being worked out. The county plans to work with Baker Ripley to set up a website where people can apply for the funds. The city of Houston recently used the same company for a similar purpose.

Residents can be awarded up to $1,200, according to Garcia. An estimated 6,000 families will benefit. Garcia said the county can’t help everyone, at least not without backing from Texas’ governor.

“I wish people would call the governor’s office and implore him urgently to be a local partner with us,” he said.