Texas tenants behind on rent will soon be able to seek aid from $1.3B assistance program

February 9, 2021

State officials plan to roll out a $1.3 billion rental assistance program for Texans struggling to keep up with housing payments during a shaky economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The new program comes after a separate state initiative was criticized for its limited scope and because many landlords declined to participate.

More than 1.6 million Texans had little or no confidence in being able to pay next month’s rent, according to a January survey by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Assistance for the new program will only be available to households that make no more than 80% of the area’s median income, which varies by county and by the number of members in a household. In 2020, for example, the threshold for a family of four in the Houston area was around $63,000.

The new program, which is expected to start in two weeks, will help with up to 15 months of rent, both for past or future payments. According to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, around 80,000 households will be able to receive assistance. Both landlords and tenants will be able to apply. Once the program is running, the payments could take up to two weeks to reach the tenants or landlords if the paperwork is filed correctly, said Brooke Boston, deputy executive director of programs at the agency.

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