Harris County boosts funding, extends deadlines for rental assistance

A Harris County program designed to provide relief to residents behind on their rent as a result of the coronavirus is getting a boost in funding. (Courtesy Fotolia)
A Harris County program designed to provide relief to residents behind on their rent as a result of the coronavirus is getting a boost in funding. (Courtesy Fotolia)

A Harris County program designed to provide relief to residents behind on their rent as a result of the coronavirus is getting a boost in funding. (Courtesy Fotolia)

A Harris County program designed to provide relief to residents behind on their rent as a result of the coronavirus is getting a boost in funding, and tenants and landlords are getting an extension on when they can submit applications.

The county began accepting applications from landlords Aug. 17 through the nonprofit BakerRipley, and the final day for landlords to apply would have been Aug. 26.

At an Aug. 25 Commissioners Court meeting, commissioners voted to extend the applications deadline by several days to Aug. 30. The deadline for tenants to apply has likewise been extended from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2.

At the same time, the amount of available funding was boosted from $25 million to $40 million after commissioners approved a new injection of $15 million. The cap on how much each household can receive in funding was also lifted from $1,200 to $1,900.

The motion to increase funding was put on the agenda by Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia. In a statement, Garcia called on the state of Texas to invest in rental relief as well.


“I’m proud to have, once again, led the effort to increase the amount available to help people struggling to pay their rent," Garcia said. "We in Harris County are stepping up to flatten the eviction curve; however, despite this increased investment, we know not everyone will be able to get this much-needed lifeline. We invite the state of Texas to get involved in programs like ours."

Under the program, landlords are required to apply to the program first to be recognized as participants, and tenants cannot apply if their landlord is not participating. Once a tenant is approved, landlords are paid directly by BakerRipley. Applications will only be approved for past rent payments, not payments that will need to be made in the future.


The fund was also previously closed off to residents in Harris County Precincts 3 and 4 who lived within Houston City limits. But at the Aug. 25 meeting, commissioners supported an amendment from Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis that opened the fund up to those residents moving forward, which includes residents in Kingwood, Spring Branch and the Memorial area, among other areas.

Commissioners at the meeting also voted to provide another $15 million boost for the Harris County COVID-19 Relief Fund, a direct assistance program designed to help residents with a variety of needs, including rent, food and medical needs. Applications are currently not open for the program, which is being managed by the Greater Houston Community Foundation.

The county is expected to be reimbursed for both programs through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Securities Act. Of the $426 million allocated to the county, about $84 million was left prior to the Aug. 25 meeting, along with a reserve of $63 million.

Between the two $15 million injections and a $17 million investment in the Harris County Clerk's Office to prepare for the November election, a total of $47 million of the remaining funding was allocated at the Aug. 25 meeting. All CARES Act funding must be spent by the end of the calendar year, with any remaining funds being paid back to the federal government.
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.


MOST RECENT

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.