Abbott announced Feb. 9 that the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs has launched the Texas Rent Relief Program, created to administer more than $1 billion allocated to Texas through the latest federal COVID-19 stimulus bill.
TDHCA will begin accepting applications for the program Feb. 15. To qualify, households must be at or below 80% of the area median income and prove their inability to pay rent is directly related to the pandemic, per federal guidelines.
TDHCA will prioritize applications for households at or below 50% of the area median income level and households in which one or more members are unemployed and have been for at least 90 days. Landlords are encouraged to apply on behalf of tenants, who must co-sign the application, according to the news release.
Beginning Feb. 15, applicants can submit their application by calling 833-989-7386 or submitting it at http://texasrentrelief.com. The call center will be open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
The program is the first statewide initiative to provide rental relief, and it comes after counties and cities across Texas have enacted or announced plans to enact their own local rent programs during the pandemic. The city of Houston, for example, will vote on a $77.8 million program Feb. 10. The city of Plano launched a program to target those facing homelessness because of COVID-19, and the city of Austin and Travis County will extend a moratorium on residential evictions for nonpayment of rent through April 1, aligning with a federal eviction ban President Joe Biden extended through March 31 shortly after his inauguration.
Austin City Council Member Greg Casar said both local and statewide efforts are needed—and they must work in conjunction—to provide any tangible relief.
“The only way this works is when the local governments are distributing rental assistance, the local governments are extending eviction moratoriums and the federal government is doing its part on those two things as well,” he said.
Olivia Aldridge, Liesbeth Powers and Emma Whalen contributed to this story.