Houstonians struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic could soon have more help coming their way.
The Houston City Council voted Aug. 5 to approve $20 million for a second round of rental relief to help city residents who cannot afford to pay rent due to economic challenges caused by COVID-19, according to a news release from the city.
The city said the package includes $15 million in funding from the CARES Act as well as $5 million from private donors to help residents pay rent for the month of August.
Eligible households will be able to receive up to $2,112 to be distributed by Houston nonprofit BakerRipley. Funds will be committed on a prioritized basis in terms of who is deemed the most vulnerable, according to Mayor Sylvester Turner, as opposed to a first-come, first-served basis, which was the case with the city’s first round of rental assistance this spring.
“I want to stress that there is no perfect formula, and we know there are Houstonians with a lot of needs as a result of the pandemic,” Turner said in a news release. “This program will provide relief to thousands of families.”
The city’s first round of rental assistance earlier this year provided about $15 million in CARES Act funds to assist more than 6,800 households for the months of April and May.
In order to qualify for rental assistance, residents must:
– Live within the city of Houston
– Be late on residential rental payments for August or prior months and cannot pay the rent due to economic challenges caused by COVID-19
According to the city, participating landlords must agree to the following terms:
– Waive late fees and interest on late payments for August or prior months
– Agree to a payment plan; and
– Postpone evictions through September
The city also said the no-eviction rule applies to all tenants on any participating property, even if only one tenant in the complex qualifies for rental assistance.
To sign up or see if they qualify, interested tenants and landlords can visit HoustonRentAssistance.org.
“If you are at the lowest level, and you are not able to pay rent, pretty much the only place left is on the street,” Turner said. “So we want to make sure people don’t find themselves forced out of their homes and on the street.”