Gov. Greg Abbott announced Sept. 25 the allocation of over $171 million in funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to help Texans at risk of becoming homeless due to eviction.

The funding will be primarily used for targeted rental assistance. The Supreme Court of Texas, the Texas Office of Court Administration, and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs will work with local governments, nonprofits and the newly created Texas Eviction Diversion Program to help renters stay in their homes, catch up on rental payments and avoid eviction.

According to a press release from the governor’s office, $167 million will go toward targeted rental assistance, and $4.2 million will go to the Texas Supreme Court to help the state’s legal aid staff and lawyers provide basic services to eligible Texans.

"The Texas Eviction Diversion Program is crucial to our state's response to COVID-19, and it will help many families recover from the impact of the pandemic without the looming threat of eviction," Abbott said in the release. "This innovative partnership, coupled with the renters assistance provided through CARES Act funding, will strengthen our economic recovery efforts and provide a lifeline to renters and property owners alike."

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, several orders were passed to ensure Texans remained in their homes during the resulting economic downturn. In March, the Texas Supreme Court issued an emergency order suspending residential eviction proceedings through mid-April.

"The rental assistance and Texas Eviction Diversion Program will help courts deal with the anticipated deluge of eviction filings by reducing filings and diverting cases to an agreeable solution," said David Slayton, the administrative director of the Texas Office of Court Administration, in the release. "Courts have worked hard to maintain access to justice during the pandemic, but we anticipate difficulty with timely handling the large number of eviction cases likely to be filed soon. The program announced today by the Governor, TDHCA, the Supreme Court, and OCA will permit courts to focus on those cases that need the most attention and ensure that landlords and tenants are able to resolve their issues timely."