ABOVE: Mayor Turner explains how Houston City Council approved the $20 million Rent Relief Program, and how the program will work, at a press conference.
Second Rental Relief Program is for Houstonians Struggling to Pay Rent and Avoid Eviction during the COVID-19 Pandemic; as part of the program, NO tenant gets evicted through September 2020, even if only one tenant in an apartment complex qualifies for rental assistance
Amid an unprecedented health crisis, Mayor Sylvester Turner and Houston City Council recently approved a $20 million rent relief package to help Houstonians who lost their jobs, struggling financially and can’t pay their rent due to the economic challenges caused by COVID-19.
This second rental assistance package put forth by City leadership, will be administered by BakerRipley. The mayor thanked the Houston Apartment Association and BakerRipley for their work to make the rental relief program successful.
“A lot of people helped get us over the finish line…and I want to thank City Council,” said Mayor Turner. “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. 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.”
Funding for the City’s second rental relief package includes $15 million from The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, and $5 million from private donors:
- $2 million from the Houston Endowment
- $1 million from the Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund
- $1 million from the Kinder Foundation
- $1 million from Texans owner and co-founder Janice McNair
Criteria to qualify for the second rental relief program, include:
- 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
- The “NO EVICTION” rule applies to all tenants on the property, even if only one tenant in an apartment complex qualifies for rental assistance
The City also plans to set aside money for Lone Star Legal Aid, and for those who need assistance, but don’t qualify for CARES Act dollars.
“I am urging Congress to put more money for rent relief in the second CARES Act package and I am calling on our state leadership to address the needs of Texans,” Mayor Sylvester Turner stated. “Cities cannot do it alone. We are trying our best, but we should not be the only resource looking out for families and business that are suffering because of COVID-19.” “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.”
Mayor Turner is also asking landlords to waive late fees and interest on late payments; agree to a payment plan; and agree not to evict any tenants through September 2020.
“We appreciate Mayor Turner’s recognition of our continued efforts to educate and represent low-income Texans facing eviction by providing funding for us to do so,” said Dana Karni, Lone Star Legal Aid managing attorney. “Lone Star Legal Aid is launching an Eviction Right to Counsel Project with the intention of increasing access to justice.”
Mayor Turner emphasized that he plans to continue working with City Council and BakerRipley to ensure the initiative is effective and successful, but reminds everyone that there is no perfect answers or formula to address the overall impact of this unprecedented pandemic.
“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,” said Mayor Turner. “This program will provide relief to thousands of families. 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. So we want to make sure people don’t find themselves forced out of their homes and on the street.”
For more information about the program, please visit HoustonRentAssistance.org.
The Houston Apartment Association is working with its members to voluntarily implement a grace period.