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City of Houston creates $19M rental assistance program. Here’s what you need to know

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner gave a news conference Monday where urges people to continue to wear masks and practice good hygiene in order to thwart the spread of coronavirus in the community.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner gave a news conference Monday where urges people to continue to wear masks and practice good hygiene in order to thwart the spread of coronavirus in the community. (KPRC 2)

HOUSTON – For a second time in a matter of months, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced a rent relief program for families struggling to keep a roof over their heads during his briefing on COVID-19 cases.

COVID-19 cases

The Houston Health Departments reports 1,554 new cases, totaling 46,969 in the city. The department also reports 18 new deaths, bringing the city’s total to 450.

“We cannot go into August and the numbers are greater in July, and then talk about going to school in September,” Turner said. “With all due respect to the state attorney general, with all due respect, there is no way under the sun I will allow even my child to go to a school if the numbers are the same or greater by the end of August.”

Relief program

In May, the city partnered with Baker Ripley to create a website and divide $15 million amongst families who needed it the most.

Within two hours, the money, which came from the federal government, was gone.

Those funds were estimated to help 8,000 families, according to houstonrentassistance.org, with $1,000 each.

The second rent relief package

Turner said the city of Houston created a $19 million rent relief package that will be administered by BakerRipley. He said $15 million of that money was provided by the Cares Act funding and $4 million by private sources and $4 million raised in the last 24 hours.

Turner thanked the Houston Endowment for giving $2 million, Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund for $1 million contribution and $1 million from the Kinder Foundation.

He said his priority is to help the most vulnerable from eviction.

Who will be eligible?

Turner said the rental assistance will not be allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis, but to provide a lifeline to those facing immediate eviction with the greatest need.

“The rental assistance will not be allocated on a first come first served basis, but rather we intend to provide a lifeline to those facing immediate eviction with the greatest need. And we will work through that process over the next few days,” Turner said. “Our objective is to help the most vulnerable. Our priority is to ensure quick assistance to help families avoid evictions working alongside landlords willing to provide flexibility and compassion to keep their tenants housed.”

Turner said he has hopes that the funds will grow between now and Wednesday and the city’s goal is $20-$25 million. He said city council will work out details to streamline the process over the next few days

He thanked landlords for working with its renters during the pandemic and shutdown. Turner said the Houston Apartment Association is working with the city to agree to a grace period.

“We believe rental assistance is the best way to remedy the stress being put on housing providers and residents,” said Clay Hicks, Houston Apartment Association president. “We all know there are large overhead expenses to provide housing across our great city and without the monthly rental income, apartment properties can’t employ and maintain the thousands of workers that keep our properties running, including the maintenance teams that have become so vital during this time cleaning and disinfecting daily while everyone stay at home.”

Fort Bend and Harris counties have also launched similar programs.

Watch the full press conference below:

WATCH LIVE: Mayor Turner to announce second rental assistance program Friday

Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Friday, July 31, 2020

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