Houston to consider new $15 million round of rent relief; advocates continue to call for grace period

Houston City Hall aerial view
Houston City Council will consider a second round of $15 million rent relief Aug. 5. (Courtesy Visit Houston)

Houston City Council will consider a second round of $15 million rent relief Aug. 5. (Courtesy Visit Houston)

Houston renters could become eligible for a second round of rental relief funds in August.

City Council is set to vote on a $15 million allocation of Houston’s federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act funding Aug. 5.

Similar to the previous round of rent relief, funding will be distributed through BakerRipley. Landlords will apply for qualification first, and then, applications for tenants will open the following week. Dates for the application period will be scheduled after council votes on the proposal. The amount of aid supplied to renters will also be determined after the vote, according to council's agenda.

Harris County also announced a second $10 million boost to its rental relief fund July 29.

During the previous round, tenants could receive assistance for up to two months of missed rent. When applications opened to tenants for the first round of relief May 13, the fund was depleted within 90 minutes.

With demand remaining high and federal and state restrictions of evictions expiring, housing advocates have been calling for additional protections.

A joint Houston-Harris County housing stability task force with members representing tenants' and landlords' interests unanimously signed a letter calling for a 60-day grace period for renters to make up missed payments. Mayor Sylvester Turner has repeatedly rejected such calls and has not put the ordinance on council’s agenda in the two weeks since it was endorsed by the task force.

“Let's say someone owes $1,000. If you put in place a grace period with no additional support, in two to three months, instead of owing $1,000, they owe $3,000," Turner told reporters July 29. "You don't want to dig a deeper hole."

Proponents of the grace period, who have been calling for greater protection since the early stages of the pandemic, have noted that similar ordinances have been enacted in cities across Texas, and in some states, they existed as a standard tenant protection even before the coronavirus pandemic began.

“We’re thankful they’re taking action, but we need a holistic approach to protect renters,” said Jay Malone, political director of the Gulf Coast AFL-CIO. “We already had members who were sleeping in their cars, and unfortunately, there will be more in the next few weeks.”
By Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered public health, education and features for several Austin-area publications. A Boston native, she is a former student athlete and alumna of The University of Texas at Austin.


Artists with Ink Dwell Studio created the mural, which depicts birds that migrate seasonally to the Houston area. (Courtesy Anthony Rathbun/Houston Parks Board)
Photos: New mural 'Confluence' celebrates Houston's bayous, birds

"It is so important to use art to lift everyone’s spirits and look at the world in a different way,” Houston Parks Board's Beth White said.

Costco Business Centers, of which there are only about 15 in the country, carry different products and provide a different shopping experience to members than do traditional Costco Wholesale stores. (Courtesy Costco Wholesale)
Costco Business Center being built in Stafford; see live music in The Woodlands and more top Houston-area news

Read the top business and community news from the Houston area from the past week.

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.

Clutch City Coffee opened in March at 4733 Richmond Ave., Houston. (Courtesy Clutch City Coffee)
Locally owned Clutch City Coffee opens near Galleria area

It exclusively serves Houston-roasted coffee and locally made breakfast tacos and pastries.

Houston’s Galleria will add several new high-end luxury brands. (Courtesy Simon)
The Galleria announces new restaurant, luxury brand additions

Moncler, the French-Italian apparel manufacturer and lifestyle brand, will be bringing its well-known jackets and sportswear for the first time in Houston.

Houston City Council approved ordinances expanding and funding Houston’s BCycle program on April 14. (Courtesy Houston BCycle)
Houston City Council OKs expansion of BCycle sites

City Council approved the addition of 11 new BCycle kiosk bike stations.

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.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended health providers pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine April 13. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
State, federal health authorities recommend pause of Johnson & Johnson vaccine after 6 rare, severe blood clots

Hub providers in Dallas, Harris and Travis counties have all announced they will follow the recommendations and pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.