Residents, landlords have through Sept. 2 to apply to Harris County's rent relief program

Residents and landlords can apply to the program through Sept. 2. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Residents and landlords can apply to the program through Sept. 2. (Courtesy Fotolia)

Residents and landlords can apply to the program through Sept. 2. (Courtesy Fotolia)

Harris County residents and landlords have until the end of the day Sept. 2 to apply for rent relief through the county's COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program, a $60 million program run jointly with the city of Houston through the nonprofit BakerRipley.

Applications were originally set to close Aug. 30, but officials voted to extend the deadline through Sept. 2 at an Aug. 25 meeting of the Harris County Commissioners Court. Money spent on the program by the county is reimbursable through the federal Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia, who led the effort to establish the fund and pushed for the recent extension, said people who are facing economic hardships caused by the coronavirus pandemic should not have to worry about being evicted from their apartments or rental homes.

"The pandemic is not the fault of anyone who has depended on the local economy to make ends meet," Garcia said in a Sept. 1 phone interview.

Landlords are required to apply to the program first to be recognized as participants, and tenants cannot apply if their landlord is not participating. To be eligible, the applicant's total household income must be below 50% of the area median income.

Once a tenant is approved, landlords are provided with payments directly from the relief fund on behalf of their approved tenants, Garcia said.

[Landlords] are business owners as well, and it's hard to ask someone who owns an apartment complex to just forego their rent indefinitely. We are mindful of that, and we understand that," Garcia said.

Officials are discussing another potential deadline extension, but Garcia said he would also like to see more of a commitment at the state level to support local initiatives such as the rental relief fund as well as other funds in Harris County designed to support small businesses and provide health care-related relief. He urged residents to do their own part to reach out to the governor's office and ask for more support for local communities.

With many applicants already multiple months behind on rent, Garcia said the creation of the relief fund involved making a tough decision—whether to provide a larger group with enough money to pay one month of rent or the provide a smaller group enough money to make multiple payments. He said help from the state would allow them to do both.

"We could be doing so much more if the county had a partner like the state," Garcia said. "We could be really multiplying the amount of help we could provide. We could give people support for several months rather than just the one month of payment."

Harris County has chipped in $40 million to the program so far, with the city of Houston providing the other $20 million. The county received about $426 million in total federal coronavirus relief funding.

"This is a lot of money, but its not a lot of money when it comes down to nearly 4 million people that are struggling," Garcia said.

Learn more about the rental relief program here.
By Shawn Arrajj
Shawn Arrajj serves as the editor of the Cy-Fair edition of Community Impact Newspaper where he covers the Cy-Fair and Jersey Village communities. He mainly writes about development, transportation and issues in Harris County.


Harris County residents seeking a COVID-19 vaccine will no longer be required to sign up for a waitlist effective immediately. (Courtesy Texas Children’s Hospital)
COVID-19 vaccines now available on demand in Harris County

The announcement comes as officials say vaccine demand is falling and will soon be in line with supply for the first time.

Customers can find baked goods and more at The Chef's Bag. (Courtesy The Chef's Bag)
The Chef’s Bag market now offering locally made products in Cy-Fair

Chefs Jennifer Burnett and Kevin Mason recently opened a market where community members can purchase products made by local chefs.

The program, which began this week in San Marcos, gives Amazon and Whole Foods employees and contractors direct access to COVID-19 vaccinations. (Courtesy Amazon)
Amazon begins rollout of statewide vaccination clinics for employees

The program, which began this week in San Marcos, gives Amazon and Whole Foods employees and contractors direct access to COVID-19 vaccinations.

A grand opening for the local drive-thru coffee spot Mudslinger's has been set for the end of April. (Courtesy Facebook)
Grand opening for Mudslinger's coffee shop set for weekend of April 30

The locally-owned, drive-thru coffee shop will serve specialty coffee, tea, infused energy drinks and breakfast/pastry items.

Reserve Salon & Spa is home to several small businesses. (Courtesy Reserve Salon & Spa)
Ultimate Drip Therapy and Wellness coming soon to Cypress

The IV hydration therapy and vitamin injection wellness spa is set to open next month.

Officials said the district has spent millions on pandemic-related needs. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Cy-Fair ISD: Federal stimulus funds needed to help cover $227M in unexpected pandemic-related expenses

According to data from Cy-Fair ISD, the district has incurred nearly $227 million in unexpected costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Federal funding is set aside for public schools to address effects of the pandemic. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Why Texas has not yet distributed $18 billion in federal funds intended for public schools

As budget decisions loom for school districts across Texas, state leaders are holding on to federal funds intended for public schools to use in addressing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Homes priced above $750,000, such as this one in the Heights, saw a surge in sales in March, with almost twice as many properties sold. (Courtesy Houston Association of Realtors)
Average Houston single-family home price jumps 20% in March

The average sale price for a home in March was $370,847.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said power outages are not expected April 13, while requesting energy conservation. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
UPDATE: ERCOT call for energy conservation ends April 13 without need for power outages

An ERCOT official said "tight" supply and demand conditions arose on the state's electric grid April 13 due to forecasting issues amid planned, seasonal maintenance outages by some power generators.

Spearheaded by state Rep. Gene Wu, D-Houston, the new court, if established, would expand the capacity of the county's criminal court system in hopes of reducing its backlog, which stood at 70,951 total cases pending before criminal district courts in Harris County as of April 8. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Harris County supports creation of new criminal district court to tackle case backlog

If the efforts are successful, this would be Harris County's first new criminal district court since 1984 when the 351st District Court was created.

Northwest Harris County Municipal Utility District No. 5 covers 22 communities and roughly 2,800 acres around the border of Cy-Fair and Tomball. (Courtesy Northwest Harris County MUD No. 5)
Northwest Harris County MUD pitches bond referendums to keep up with growth, bolster trail system

Northwest Harris County MUD No. 5—which caters to 22 subdivisions around the border of Cy-Fair and Tomball—is seeking voter approval on bond referendums that officials said will help maintain aging utility infrastructure, launch a water reclamation project and bring new trails to the community.