Today, the Houston City Council approved a $15 million rent relief fund to help Houstonians make their payments amidst the COVID-19 public health crisis.
The money for the program will come from the federal CARES Act and will be administered by the local nonprofit BakerRipley.
“The program provides much-needed assistance for our residents. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected constituents economically, forcing many to make tough choices,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “While this rent relief fund will help thousands of people, we know thousands more will need help. We are trying to do as much as we can with the little that we have.”
Beginning Thursday, May 7 at 10 a.m., landlords can begin enrolling on the program’s website at https://www.houstonrentassistance.org/. The portal will open to tenants beginning at 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 13.
BakerRipley will provide up to $1,056 of rental assistance per month to qualified low-to-moderate income people who could not pay their April and/or May rent.
“BakerRipley is honored to continue our mission, with the City’s committed support, to meet the needs of some of our most vulnerable communities,” said Claudia Aguirre, BakerRipley President and CEO. “The BakerRipley Rental Assistance Program is a critical program for many neighbors who struggled before this crisis and have seen those struggles exacerbated in the face of COVID-19. Recovery starts now. It starts with each individual and organization across this region, doing their part to keep this city a welcoming center of opportunity. Thank you, Mayor Turner, for your continued leadership and work on behalf of this amazing and resilient City.”’
The landlords who agree to participate in the program will need to agree to certain terms:
• Waive all late fees, penalties, and interest for the two months.
• Allow tenants to enter a payment plan for any rent due in excess of $1,056.
• Rescind any prior notice to vacate and halt any prior eviction proceedings for the two months.
Renters must meet the following requirements
• Live inside the city of Houston
• Be late on residential rental payments for either or both the months of April and May
• Be current on their rent for all months prior to April 2020
• Affirm that their inability to pay is due to financial hardship resulting from the economic impact of COVID-19
• Have income less than 80% of the Area Median Income (approximately $40,000 for one person or $60,000 for a family of four) or qualify for one of the programs listed in the application (e.g. Medicaid, WIC, SNAP, Head Start, or VA Pension)
The Houston Apartment Association estimates the rent relief program will help thousands of workers who have been laid off because of business closures.
“On behalf of our members, our staff, and especially our residents, I want to thank Mayor Turner and council members for their leadership in creating this vital program,” said Clay Hicks, Houston Apartment Association president. “Many of the nearly one million Houstonians who live in apartments have been unable to work – some since mid-March. This rental assistance program will help thousands of Houston apartment residents get caught up with April and May rent. And, in turn, it will help apartment properties to maintain thousands of jobs, including the maintenance workers that keep our properties running, and pay their property taxes that fund our schoolteachers, police officers, and firefighters.”
The program is expected to help at least 6,818 households.