Texas Rent Relief application portal closing Thursday after flood of requests for assistance ‘far exceeded available funding’
The Texas Rent Relief Program announced Wednesday that it will be closing its application portal early due to the overwhelming amount of submissions which flooded in just 24 hours after reopening.
There is $144 million still available in rent relief for Houston and Harris County residents. Here is how you can apply
HOUSTON – The Houston and Harris County Rent Relief Program is still open to applicants. There is still $144 million available of the original $159 million federal funds allocated at the end of February. Check out www.HoustonHarrisHelp.org to learn about the eligibility requirements for both tenants and landlords, read FAQs, and submit documents. Per U.S. Treasury guidelines, most payments will be made directly to landlords instead of tenants. This will reduce the wait time for past-due rent to be paid and will also protect tenants from eviction, legal action, and late fees.
How and when landlords and tenants can apply for up to 15 months of rent and utility assistance
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs is administering the Texas Rent Relief Program and doling out $1.3 billion. Landlords and tenants can apply for the money to recoup unpaid rent and utility bills as far back as March 13, 2020 and up to three months in advance. AdDon’t wait until Monday to check out Texas Rent Relief. Tenants and landlords can apply separately, but Dana Karni of Lone Star Legal Aid says both parties will get help sooner if they cooperate with one another. You can call the Texas Rent Relief Program Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. to get answers to your questions.
Need financial help as the pandemic continues? Here’s how to get assistance to avoid homelessness, Texans
HOUSTON – There’s a new source of help for people facing homelessness due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs has announced more than $61 million has been awarded to approximately 50 organizations statewide to assist people experiencing homelessness or at-risk of homelessness. Here’s where to start the three-step process to apply for the help. STEP 2: Enter your city or countySTEP 3: Find helpStart the three-step process to apply for the help now. Funds were made possible through the Emergency Solutions Grants Program as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Here is some help for families struggling to pay rent
HOUSTON – If you or someone you know is behind on rent and struggling to keep a roof over their family’s heads, let them know about RaiseUp Families. The Houston non-profit organization is looking for more clients to offer a hand up through a 9-month program. If your family is chosen, you will receive help with rent, utilities, transportation and childcare while going through budgeting workshops and counseling. 102 or Rose at 713-973-8083, ext 103 to make an appointment to discuss whether or not the program is a good fit. How you can helpRaise Up Families is holding a virtual event online Wednesday, Oct. 21st from 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. with a silent and live auction you can participate in online.
Gov. Abbott to allocate over $171M to go toward rental assistance
AUSTIN – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday that he will be allocating over $171 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding that will go toward helping Texans at risk of becoming homeless due to eviction. According to a news release, the funds will allow the local and state officials to work with non-profits to help people catch up on missed rent payments so they can stay in their homes and avoid an eviction on their record. “The Texas Eviction Diversion Program is crucial to our state’s response to COVID-19, and it will help many families recover from the impact of the pandemic without the looming threat of eviction,” Abbott said. “This innovative partnership, coupled with the renters assistance provided through CARES Act funding, will strengthen our economic recovery efforts and provide a lifeline to renters and property owners alike.”Of the funds, $167 million will go toward rental assistance and about $4.2 million will be “allocated through the Texas Supreme Court to help the state’s legal aid providers and pro bono lawyers provide basic legal services to eligible Texans through this pandemic.”
Group aims to provide free legal help to Harris County families facing eviction during pandemic
If you want to get help from Lone Star Legal Aid, you can start here: LSLA COVID Eviction Interview. According to research from January Advisors, from July 1 through September 9, a total of 4,988 eviction cases were filed in eight Harris County precincts. About 34% of those were filed in Precinct 5, which covers West Harris County. Total evictions in Harris County between July 1 and Sept. 9. (Courtesy of January Advisors) (KPRC)Evictions in Harris County Precinct 5 between July 1 and Sept. 9.
Deadline extended for Houston’s rental assistance program
HOUSTON – The City of Houston and Harris County have extended the deadline for the rental assistance program. According to Mayor Sylvester Turner, the deadline for landlords and tenants to apply for the program is now Wednesday, Sept. 2. “If you are a tenant or a landlord, because of Hurricane Laura, we have decided we are extending the deadline,” said Turner. The program is meant to help those who are struggling to pay rent because of the pandemic. In order for tenants to be able to apply, their landlords must first enroll in the program.
Nearly 600K Texans will lose access to a program that prevented electricity shut-offs during pandemic on Oct. 1
On Oct. 1, Texans who were previously protected by a state program blocking utility disconnections during the coronavirus pandemic, could again be at risk of having their lights shut off because they cant pay their bills. Advocates and users criticized the program for being difficult to register for and being advantageous to utility providers, rather than consumers. Customers will only be required to pay what hasnt already been offset by discounts given to energy providers as a result of the program. Texans receiving unemployment relief are also eligible to register for the program until then. In total, about 3.3 million Texans have applied for unemployment relief benefits since mid-March.
Check this list to see if youre eligible to apply for up to $1,200 in rental assistance from Harris County
HOUSTON Harris County residents and landlords can soon begin applying for rental assistance from the county on Monday after the Harris County Commissioners Court approved a $25 million emergency rental assistance program. Through this program, applicants who need help with rent and associated expenses for payments or late fees that were incurred after April 1, can apply for a maximum of $1,200 in assistance. To be eligible for assistance through this program, applicants must meet the following requirements:Landlord must be registered as a program participantApplicant must reside within Harris County. However, city of Houston residents within Precincts 3 and 4 are not eligible for the Harris County program. When the application window opens, you can submit yours on the Harris County Rent Help website.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says local governments can't stop or delay evictions
In a nonbinding opinion, Attorney General Ken Paxton said Friday that local governments can't delay or ban eviction proceedings, even under emergency declarations during crises like the coronavirus pandemic. Loren Elliott for The Texas TribuneSign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton advised Friday that local Texas governments' attempts to delay evictions for renters grappling with the COVID-19 recession amounted to rewriting state law something they can't do, he said in nonbinding legal guidance. While local officials do possess certain emergency powers ... statewide eviction procedures far exceed the requirement that those powers be exercised 'on an appropriate local scale,' Paxton said in a letter. Nothing he has done to date shows us that we could expect something different, said Sandy Rollins, executive director of the housing advocacy group Texas Tenants Union.
Texans owner among local partners who have stepped up to contribute $5 million for Houston rental relief
HOUSTON Four local partners came together to help struggling Houstonians pay their rent amid the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic slowdown. Houston Endowment, the Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund, the Kinder Foundation, and the Houston Texans owner and co-founder Janice McNair contributed $5 million for the city of Houstons second rental relief package. The federal government, through the CARES Act, contributed 75% of the $20 million rental program, announced Wednesday by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. So many are struggling to provide for their families during the COVID-19 pandemic, said McNair in a press release. Im thankful to Mayor Turner for providing programs focused on assisting our neighbors.Heres a breakdown of the money contributed by the partners:
Harris County commissioners to provide additional $10M in rental relief to struggling families
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. Harris County Commissioners voted to allocate $10 million to help families with rent. 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. Garcia said the county cant help everyone, at least not without backing from Texas governor.
Ask 2: Can a renter deny a landlord access to a rental property due to fear of COVID-19 exposure?
As part of our Ask 2 series, the newsroom will answer your questions about all things Houston. Question: Has there been any change to the requirements to allow landlords access to a rental property due to fear of COVID-19? Answer: With the coronavirus pandemic in full swing in the Houston area, understandably, many are concerned about being exposed to the virus. Renters may worry about allowing people, including their landlords, into their homes for fear for spreading the virus. However, tenants cannot refuse landlords access to property due to fear of contracting COVID-19, according to Texas Realtors.
Harris County eviction cases continue to mount as coronavirus threat, job loss continues
The state lifted its moratorium on evictions at the end of May and since that time, the number of evictions cases filed in Harris County court has continued to rise. That’s the situation I’m in.”From southeast Houston to West Harris County, and from Pasadena to Humble, Harris County Justice of the Peace courts have dockets filled with eviction cases. There were 2,300 eviction cases filed Harris County just in the last month according to Princeton University’s Eviction Lab, which is studying evictions nationwide. Hepburn said despite historically lower numbers — unlike other cities such as Boston, Cleveland or even Austin — there are fewer protections for those facing eviction in Harris County. Karni said many people facing eviction don’t even know to ask if they’re covered by the CARES Act.
With the threat of evictions looming, Harris County, Houston recovery czars set up task force
On March 19, Governor Greg Abbott issued a 2-month moratorium on evictions during the pandemic which expired in May. The Texas Supreme Court then ruled that evictions and debt collection may resume in the state. If a landlord has a federally backed mortgage or participates in a federal assistance program then evictions on those properties cannot yet proceed. However, a huge number of residents in Houston and Harris County remain uncertain of whether they will keep the roof over their heads amid the pandemic. Thursday, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said in a press conference that she could not issue another moratorium under the current state orders.
Humble woman claims landlord cut off utilities to harass her after she fell behind on rent
HUMBLE, Texas – An Humble woman says she has been without water for more than two weeks and claims her landlord is the one responsible for cutting it after she fell behind on three to four months of rent. The woman, who didn’t want to be identified, said she began falling behind on rent because her worker’s comp ran out and she’s waiting on disability payments. “When I said I didn’t have (money for rent), he come back out and he took the pipe for the water,” she said. “Unless there’s an emergency or unless there’s construction, this sort of utilities shut off is absolutely illegal,” Karni said. However, Hwang denies pulling any breakers to cut the electricity and says his workers didn’t do that either.
What you need to know about Montgomery County’s new $10M rental assistance program
HOUSTON – During a special session Monday, Montgomery County Commissioners Court designated $10 million to go toward rental assistance for residents in need. Montgomery County was funded $105 million from that act to help residents who were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We must use these funds diligently and help all who have been affected,” Commissioner James Noack said in a press release. The fund will not have an income limit, unlike the $2.4 million approved for rental assistance during the May 26 Commissioners Court session. This means that middle-class families across the county who need rental assistance will also be able to apply.
Houston Mayor’s tweet sparks optimism to families facing evictions
HOUSTON – A social media post from Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner sparked immediate relief Monday night to families struggling to pay overdue rent and facing eviction. On Wednesday, Mayor Turner said he made the post after having only spoken to one Justice of the Peace, Judge Eric William Carter. Seven, plus the one Mayor Turner spoke to, said they plan to postpone eviction hearings until June. “Just right now we’re preparing for service giving food supplies to families and they come and say ‘hey we need help with rent. On Tuesday, TMO sent a letter to Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo asking her to extend the moratorium on evictions which expired May 19.
Evictions in Texas can move forward again, so what rights do tenants have?
The Cares Act is the massive federal economic aid package passed in March. If a landlord has a federally backed mortgage or participates in a federal assistance program then evictions on those properties cannot yet proceed. Texas Housers put up a map of 14,000 multi-family units with federally backed mortgages in Texas. “We weren’t able to get data because of privacy concerns on single-family rentals that have federally backed mortgages,” said Middleton. Middleton suggests sending a letter to your landlord to inquire whether the property falls under the CARES Act.
Spencer Solves It: Help available for those having trouble paying the bills
They were hoping to qualify for Houston’s rental assistance program, but it ran out of money in less than an hour. But there is help available. Another organization that is offering low-income families with help paying rent and utilities is Catholic Charities. “I’ve worked in non-profits and this need is so large.”The assistance is available to qualified people in Houston’s ten metro counties. We also found a comprehensive list of help available in Harris, Fort Bend, Montgomery, and Waller counties, as well as help available from United Way where you can search for what’s available in your neighborhood.
Houston’s $15 million in rent assistance runs out in just two hours
HOUSTON – Just a couple of hours after opening for tenant applications Wednesday, the rent assistance program authorized by the Houston City Council ran out of money. The council voted last week in favor of a $15 million assistance program with an additional $8 million for Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Landlords had to enroll in the rental assistance program in order for their tenants to apply for the funds. TenantsRenters were able to apply for rental assistance starting at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Just about two hours later, a tweet from the Houston Housing and Community Development Department indicated that all of the $15 million in assistance money had been allocated.
Here are answers to your questions about evictions and renters’ rights during the coronavirus pandemic
It doesn’t even allow you to NOT pay rent. It only says courts can not process evictions for non-payment of rent that landlords have filed until after May 18th. Q: Can landlords charge late fees? However, the federal CARES Act does prevent landlords whose mortgages are federally backed from charging late fees to their tenants. Attorney Mark Grandich with Lone Star Legal Aid said it’s not easy to find out, but many mortgages are federally backed.
Can you pay the rent on May 1? Here’s what to do if you can’t
How can you say where you are going to be if you don't know what you have coming in?" Across the country, tenant advocates and housing lawyers are sounding alarms that an increasing number of renters will not be able to pay rent on May 1st. What's more, they are concerned many renters will lose their homes as suspensions on evictions phase out and rent relief is not widely available. If you can't pay your rent, this is what you should do. Connect with relief resources and other tenantsThere may be rent relief resources available locally.
Renters at risk as ban on evictions expires April 30
Houston – Texas’ order prohibiting landlords from evicting tenants who can’t pay their rent expires on April 30. They can’t be processed right now, but as soon as the order expires, that would be 845 people and families with no place to live. The bulk of these evictions have been filed in Harris County Precinct 4, which covers most of north Harris County from Spring on the northwest side to Humble on the northeast, and Precinct 5, which covers almost all of west Harris County. Until people get assistance or can go back to work, they have no way to pay their rent. Talk with your landlord about any changes you have had in pay that impact your ability to pay your rent.
Proposed bill could cancel your rent, mortgage payments during coronavirus pandemic
A U.S. representative is proposing a bill that could cancel all rent and mortgage payments through the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. The “Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act of 2020” is being proposed by Minnesota’s Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar. During the COVID-19 suspension, tenants and residents will also not accumulate debt, face additional fees, penalties or interests, or have their credit scores or rental history negatively impacted due to nonpayment, the proposed bill states. The act also establishes a landlord relief fund that would reimburse losses from the canceled payments. Click here to read the full proposed bill.
Rent. Student loans. Utility bills. How to get help if you can’t pay your bills
MortgagesHomeowners struggling to pay their mortgage should contact their loan servicer to discuss payment options. Some states are offering rent assistance, like Delaware, which offers up to $1,500 to residents struggling to pay rent or electric bills because of coronavirus. Student loansThose with federal student loans may not have to make payments through September 30, as the government is suspending payments and waiving interest on federal student loans for six months. The six-month suspension and interest waiver applies only to federally held loans, roughly 85% of federal student loans. That includes Direct federal loans, as well as PLUS loans that parents may have taken out on behalf of their children.
Rent is due: Here are financial resources to help you navigate all of the bills that are now due
KPRC 2consumer expert Amy Davis spoke with financial educator Tiffany Aliche to help guide you through which bills to pay and which ones to delay. I don’t have enough money to pay rent. Sugar Land real estate attorney Himesh Ghandi talked with Davis about what your rights are in case you can’t make rent. Worried about making your mortgage or rent payment during the coronavirus outbreak? Click here to read more about how you can get help if you are struggling with mortgage or rent payments.
With rent due Wednesday, many worry about keeping a roof over their heads during coronavirus pandemic
Rent will be due for many on the first of the month Wednesday, regardless of their ability to pay. With many families worried about finances due to the coronavirus, some are debating whether to buy food or pay rent. Harris County is currently under a “stay home, work safe” order but it doesn’t guarantee tenants a roof over their heads. “The hope is that landlords will work with people who are renting,” Mayor Turner said. People are paying first and last month rent ... go ahead and utilize the last month’s rent.”Howard Bookstaff with the Houston Apartment Association said it’s important for tenants and renters to communicate.
Worried about making your mortgage or rent payment during the coronavirus outbreak? Here are all of the ways you can get help.
HOUSTON – As the coronavirus pandemic has caused a great economical crisis, many workers have been laid-off or are not receiving pay during business closures. If you’re worried about missing a mortgage payment, contact your lender immediately. Numerous banks have said they are willing to work with distressed borrowers, including potentially suspending or reducing mortgage payments for a stretch. TAA advises renters to communicate with their property manager if they find themselves unable to pay rent. According to the association, they have encouraged rental property owners to waive late fees and set up a payment plan for residents impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
Which bills to pay first when you cant pay them all
You may be worrying about how youre going to pay the bills. If you dont have enough money coming in to pay all of your bills, Alcihe said to focus on your basic necessities first. If I dont pay this bill, will I be unsafe? You wont be unhealthy or unsafe if you dont pay your car note or your credit card bill. I am someone who is a big proponent of getting debt free and paying debt back, Aliche said.
I don’t have enough money to pay rent. Can my landlord evict me or tack on late fees?
HOUSTON – More than four out of every 10 people in Houston rent their homes. With many of those tenants out of work or not getting paid right now, paying rent next week will be tough. Q: I won’t have enough to pay rent on April 1st. Isn’t my landlord required to help me since the coronavirus has caused many people to be laid off? It is entirely up to the landlords if they are willing to reduce your rent amount or accept late payments with no penalties.