Houston approves $20M rental relief package. Here is who qualifies

HOUSTON – Houston city council unanimously passed a second rental relief package for $20 million, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Wednesday.

BakerRipley, a nonprofit based in Houston, will facilitate the distribution of the funds by prioritizing the most vulnerable families first.

The funding includes $15 million from the federal government through the CARES Act and $5 million from donors, who understand the impact of COVID-19 is having on working families. Private contributors to the fund include Houston Endowment, the Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund, the Kinder Foundation and Janice McNair of the Texans.

“There is a tremendous need in our city. So let me encourage you to please if you will, contribute,” Turner said.

This is the second round of rental assistance offered for Houston residents. Turner said this process will be different, as it is not first-come, first-served, but based on vulnerability prioritization. The program will target those who are paying the lowest amount in rent, then work upward.

“If you are at the lowest level, and you are not able to pay, pretty much the only place left is to the street. So we want to make sure people don’t find themselves on the street,” Turner said.

To qualify, a person must live within the city limits, be behind on rent payments for August or prior months, and cannot pay rent due to economic challenges caused by the coronavirus, according to city officials.

Landlords, who are participating in this rental relief program, will also have additional requirements, Turner said.

Owners must agree to waive all late fees and interest for that month, refrain from initiating the eviction process or rescind any prior evictions through Sept. 2020; and if one tenant is approved for funding, no attendants at the complex will be evicted through Sept. 2020.

“Even if only one tenant qualifies, the ‘no eviction’ rule applies to all tenant and (we) ask landlords to waive late fees,” Turner said.

The city also plans to set aside money for Lone Star Legal Aid and for those who need assistance but do not qualify for CARES Act funding.

Criteria to qualify for rental relief program:

  • Must live in the City of Houston and be behind on rent payments for August or prior months and cannot pay the rent due to economic challenges caused by COVID-19
  • Must live in the City of Houston and behind on rent payments for August or prior months and cannot pay the rent due to economic challenges caused by COVID-19
  • Even if only one tenant in an apartment complex qualifies for rental assistance, the no eviction rule applies to all tenants on the property
  • For more information, visit HoustonRentAssistance.org.

Turner called on state and federal lawmakers to provide more financial assistance to cities to fight the spread of COVID-19.

“There is no perfect formula,” Turner said. “We know there is no perfect plan. We know there are Houstonians with lots of needs.”

Houston Health Department announced 709 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total to 52,320. The department also confirmed 14 new deaths in Houston, bringing the total to 503 new cases.

The positivity rate remains at 17%. Yet, Turner said the goal is to be at or below 5%.

Here is the full conference from Mayor Turner:

Rental relief package

Mayor Sylvester Turner is holding a news conference Wednesday to discuss Houston’s second rental relief package and provide an update on the coronavirus response. READ MORE: https://www.click2houston.com/news/local/2020/08/05/mayor-turner-discusses-rental-relief-package-and-coronavirus-response-in-houston/

Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Wednesday, 5 August 2020

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