The allocation is drawn from $61 million granted to the county from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, and addresses increased assistance requests through Travis County’s existing rent assistance program of Travis County’s Health and Human Services Family Support Services Division.
In discussion prior to the vote, former Travis County Judge Sara Eckhardt said direct financial assistance to renters and landlords was one of the most expedient ways the county could help residents struggling financially due to loss of income spurred by COVID-19.
“We want to make sure this money has the biggest bang for individuals who are most marginalized in our community,” Eckhardt said.
Households whose income falls at 250% or less than Federal Policy Income Guidelines qualify for rent assistance through this pool of funding—for instance, single adults who make no more than $31,900 or single adult, two-child households making no more than $54,300. These guidelines mark an expansion in those qualified for rental assistance from the county. Previously, only households that make 150% FPIG have qualified for Travis County rent assistance.
A breakdown of costs covered by the allocation includes $9,490,580 allotted for mortgage and rent payments, $250,000 for utility payments and $259,420 for associated family support services. Like all CARES Act funding, the $10 million in rent assistance must be distributed by the end of 2020.
The vote occurred at Eckhardt’s last meeting presiding over the court as county judge. Her interim replacement, Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe, took his oath of office in a private ceremony following the May 12 voting session.
Eckhardt departs to pursue a seat on the Texas Senate. She will vie for Kirk Watson's vacated District 14 seat in a July 14 special election.