Here is a list of websites with information about financial assistance available to Texas renters:
The Texas Law Help website has very handy information on an array of rent relief programs across Texas including application links. Residents can also call 211 for a list of local financial resources in their area.
The National Low Income Coalition also has a database of rental assistance programs from across the country. For a list of programs of Texas, go this link and click on the state of Texas. Here is a mobile-phone friendly list of the programs.
Federal Emergency Rental Assistance
March 10, 2021: Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act, which provides more than $27.4 billion in rental assistance, along with another $5 billion in utility assistance. For the rental assistance, $21.55 billion will be funded to states, cities, and counties through the Coronavirus Relief Fund, which will be administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury. The rental assistance also includes $5 billion in funding for emergency housing vouchers administered through through public housing authorities. Here is more information on the Act’s funding for rental assistance including eligibility requirements.
December 2020: Congress approved $25 billion in funding for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which included an estimated $1.9 billion in emergency rental assistance for Texas. Cities and counties with populations above 200,000 received a direct allocation from the federal government, while small cities and counties received their allocation through the State of Texas.
The program provides up to 15 months of rent (for past and future payments) for qualified renters. Both landlords and tenants can apply for the program. More information is available on the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affair’s website.
Here is a list that includes what each city and county in Texas received. Some highlights:
- Austin: $29.6 million
- Dallas: $40.6 million
- Houston: $70.1 million
- Fort Worth: $27.5 million
- San Antonio: $46.8 million
Here is a summary of the rental relief provisions in the legislation, from information provided by the National Low Income Information Coalition:
- Eligibility: To be eligible for the rental assistance, one or more individuals in the household must: (1) be qualified for unemployment benefits or attest in writing that he or she has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the pandemic; (2) demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; and (3) have a household income below 80% AMI. The legislation prioritizes rental assistance for households at 50% of AMI or households with a member who has been unemployed for at least 90 days.
- Length of aid: Renters can qualify for up to 12 months of rental assistance, and depending on availability of funds and local or state rules, an additional 3 months “if necessary to ensure housing stability.”
- Types of assistance: The rental assistance can be applied to late rent as well as future rent up to three months, as well as utility payments. Renters can reapply for additional assistance.
- Fail-safe provision: Payments can be made directly to landlords or utilities on behalf of renters, but renters must co-sign application and be provided documentation of the payments. If landlords choose not to participate in the rental assistance program, funds can be provided directly to renters to meet their obligations.
- Use of funds: At least 90% of the funds must be used to provide financial assistance to renters. The remaining 10% of funds can be used for case management and other services related to the pandemic, as defined by the Treasury Secretary, intended to help keep households stably housed.
February 9, 2021: The State of Texas launched the Texas Rent Relief Program, which will distribute more than $1 billion from the federal COVID-19 relief legislation. The emergency funds help renters with both rent and utilities, including past due bills going back to March 13, 2020, as well current bills and up to three months future costs. If funds are still available, program recipients can apply for three additional months of future costs. Both landlords and renters may apply for the program. Additional information about the program is available on the Texas Rent Relief Program website.
September 25, 2020: The Texas Governor announced an allocation of over $171 million in CARES Act funding to help protect renters impacted by the pandemic. $167 million of the funds will be used for rental assistance, to be administered through the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, working in partnership with local governments and nonprofit organizations. $4.2 million will support the Texas Eviction Diversion Program, which will be allocated through the Texas Supreme Court to the state’s legal aid providers and pro bono lawyers to provide basic legal services to low-income renters threatened with eviction.