For more information about protections and financial assistance available to Texas renters, visit https://stoptxeviction.org/
The National Low Income Coalition is also maintaining 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
The federal government’s December 2020 emergency COVID-19 relief legislation included an estimated $1.9 billion in emergency rental assistance for the State of Texas. Cities and counties with populations above 200,000 will receive a direct allocation from the federal government, while small cities and counties will receive their allocation through the State of Texas.
In order to receive its allocation of assistance, the local government must submit a set f required paperwork with the US Department of the Treasury by 11:59pm ET on January 12, 2021. The Treasury Department has additional information on its website.
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.
The following is a summary of the largest local government programs providing direct financial relief to Texas residents impacted by pandemic. Note: This information has not been updated since September 2020. The links above contain more up-t0-date information.
If you know of any updates that should added to this list, please email CommunityAssistanceProject@law.utexas.edu.
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.
Sept 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 a newly created 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.
August 10, 2020: The City of Austin has launched a new Rent Assistance Program for income-eligible renters impacted by the pandemic. Applications open August 19, 2020 at 8am. The City has allocated $17 million towards this program.
June 4, 2020: The Austin City Council allocated an additional $30.7 million in assistance to help residents impacted by COVID-19 with rental assistance and other basic needs. $18.7 million of these funds is directed solely for rent assistance. The remaining funds are for the City’s RISE Fund, which disburses money to social service agencies to help residents with rent, food and other emergency relief. The bulk of these funds is from the City’s allocation of federal Coronavirus Relief Funds.
April 9, 2020: the Austin City Council allocated $15 million for the City’s RISE fund, with funding disbursed to social service agencies to help residents with rent, food, and other emergency relief. The fund is being administered by the following agencies:
- Austin Area Urban League: 512-838-3442 (English); 512-990-1598 (Spanish)
- El Buen Samaritano: 512-439-8902 (bilingual) or email@example.com
- Catholic Charities: (512) 651-6100
- Asian Family Support Services
HACA rental assistance program: CLOSED TO APPLICANTS. The City of Austin allocated $1.5 million in funding to the Housing Authority of the City of Austin for a rental assistance program which opened on May 4th and closed on May 6th. The assistance was supposed to serve around 1,000 households. The City received 10,738 applications for the assistance, from which 5,500 were deemed eligible for the assistance.
April 21, 2020: The Bexar County Commissioners Court allocated $4 million for a rental assistance fund called the Temporary Rental Assistance Measure (“TRAM”). The program offers 1-3 months of rental assistance for households earning 100% AMI or less in Bexar County who do not reside in San Antonio and who can provide proof of unemployment (i.e., furlough, layoff or termination) or a material reduction of income due to COVID-19. Bexar County residents can apply for the rent assistance at http://www.habctx.org/TRAM
June 1, 2020: The County opened online applications for Colin CARES, a $45 million financial assistance program.
Dallas and Dallas County
July 24, 2020: Dallas County has reopened its Emergency Housing Assistance Program for applications. The pre-screening application process ends on August 20th at 4pm. Visit: https://www.dallascounty.org/covid-19/emergency-assistance.php
On June, 2020, the Dallas City Council approved an additional $10 million in federal funds for rental and mortgage assistance, along with a $7.1 million program for help persons experiencing homelessness access permanent housing.
In April 2020, the Dallas City Council allocated $13.7 million in federal funding for rental and mortgage assistance for approximately 1,000 households impacted by COVID-19. The funding, which will be administered through four different programs, comes primarily from the federal HOME, CDBG, ESG, and HOWPA programs. The program received more than 16,000 applications on the first day it opened to the public. The program has reached capacity and is closed to new applicants.
El Paso County
June 1, 2020: El Paso County launched a $1 million rent relief program for tenants impacted by COVID-19. Here is a link to their application.
Summer 2020: The City of Fort Worth has allocated $7.2 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds and additional Community Development Block Grant funds to provide rental assistance and other emergency assistance to families impacted by COVID-19. Information and applications are available at http://fortworthtexas.gov/neighborhoods/covid-19-relief-funds/.
August 2020: The Harris County Commissioners Court approved an additional $10 million for Emergency Rental Assistance Program (bringing the total to $25 million) and an additional $25 million for the COVID-19 relief fund. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program is being administered in partnership with the the City of Houston (see below).
July 2020: The Harris County Commissioners Court authorized $15 million to create the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The program provides a one-time payment of $1,200 per household to be used for rent and late fees. The landlord enrollment period begins on August 17, and tenants may begin applying on August 24.
May 19, 2020: The Harris County Commissioners Court approved an additional $15 million for its COVID-19 relief fund, bringing the funding levels up to $30 million. The fund will provide $1,200-1,500 for eligible families and is estimated to help at least 20,000 households.
Apr 28, 2020: The Harris County Commissioners Court authorized the creation of a $15 million COVID-19 relief fund to assist residents with rent, food, medical care and other expenses. The details and timing of the program have not been unveiled. The funds were allocated from the County’s reserves. The Greater Houston Community Foundation and United Way are managing the fund.
August 2020: Houston and Harris County have launched a joint $45 million program to deliver assistance to renters impacted by the pandemic. Payments are made only to participating landlords. Landlord applications are open from August 17-26, and tenant applications are open from August 24-30th.
July 1, 2020: The City of Houston allocated an additional $15 million in funding for rental assistance.
May 6, 2020: The City of Houston City Council allocated $15 million in funding for rental assistance from its federal Coronavirus Relief Funds. The funds ran out within two hours of the application process opening. The City has also committed $8 million in federal HOME funds for rental assistance.
In late June 2020, Houston and Harris County have also launched a $56 million initiative to address homelessness using federal funds allocated through the CARES Act (Houston dedicated $29 million and Harris County dedicated $18 million). The goal of the Community-wide COVID-19 Housing Program (CCHP) is to provide permanent housing over the next two years for 5,000 people experiencing homelessness.
May 2, 2020: The City of Killeen has created a utility and rent assistance program for low-income residents impacted by COVID-19. The program is funded with $614,000 CDBG-COVID funding, along with reprogramming of prior CDBG allocations. Applications open May 4th.
June 4, 2020: The City of San Antonio approved a COVID-19 Resiliency and Recovery Plan with an additional $50.5 million for housing security including the following:
- $28 million for rental and mortgage assistance
- $1.5 million for case management
- $9.2 million towards homeless shelter options (the city will lease 310 hotels and serve 500 homeless)
- $3.3 million towards domestic violence prevention
- $500,000 for outreach and community engagement
- $120,000 to connect residents with low cost products (bank accounts and loans)
- $4 million to provide financial counseling services
- $4 million for the Family Initiative Up together program (provides support while seeking to increase long-term income)
The vast majority of the funding ($43.4m) is from the city’s allocation of federal Coronavirus Relief Funds, with the other funding ($7m) coming from other federal block grants.
Apr 23, 2020: The San Antonio City Council approved a $25 million COVID-19 Housing Assistance Fund (a re-branding of the city’s Risk Mitigation Fund but with a lot more money in it). A big chunk of this money is reallocated affordable housing funds, but close to $10 million is from the city’s general funds, tax increment financing funds, parking fund and other non-housing pots of money. It looks like the fund will be used for direct cash assistance payments to families (to cover a range of needs) as well as housing assistance. The city expects to help 15,000-20,000 families with these funds. Last week alone 5,300 persons called the city for assistance, and the city has already approved funding for 1,400 applicants, so the funds will probably run out quickly. Here is a link to the fund.
May 12, 2020: The Travis County Commissioners Court approved $10 million for rent, mortgage, and utility assistance for Travis County residents living outside the Austin city limits. The $10 million is funded from the County’s $61 million Coronavirus Relief Fund allocation. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis through the County’s Health and Human Services website.