Rent relief: How to apply for the latest assistance in Houston and Harris County

Tenants in Houston and Harris County can apply for a second round of rent relief in Mid-August. (Courtesy Visit Houston)
Tenants in Houston and Harris County can apply for a second round of rent relief in Mid-August. (Courtesy Visit Houston)

Tenants in Houston and Harris County can apply for a second round of rent relief in Mid-August. (Courtesy Visit Houston)

Updated post Sept. 9, 2020:

Any renter whose landlord did not apply to the rent relief program program can call Baker Ripley directly for assistance, Mayor Sylvester Turner said Sept. 9. Those renters may be eligible for any additional funds the rent relief program receives from private donations.

For more information call: 281-272-6478

Updated post Sept 4, 2020:

The deadline for tenant and landlord rent relief applications has been extended indefinitely, Mayor Sylvester Turner said September 3. The rent relief fund will remain active until funds runout and will re-activate as donations and additional government assistance become available. The announcement came after the Centers for Disease Control enacted a nationwide eviction moratorium September 2. Although evictions may not be enforceable, tenants will need to pay missed rent when the moratorium is lifted at the end of 2020, according to the CDC.


Original post: August 14, 2020:

Renters in need of financial relief in Houston and Harris County have a couple new options and housing advocates say the aid will be more crucial than ever this month.

Residents can apply for either Houston or Harris County’s rent relief program but not both. Residents within Houston city limits may apply for Houston’s program and residents within Harris County but outside of Houston city limits may apply for Harris County’s program. Check address locations here.

City of Houston rent relief





Harris County rent relief





Who can apply?


Houston

Renters within Houston city limits can apply. If their landlord did not apply, the tenant will not be eligible for relief. Unlike the city’s first round of rent relief, which was depleted in less than two hours, this round of funding will not be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Instead, renters will be evaluated based on level of need. Renters’ household income prior to April 2020 must have been less than 80% of Houston’s area median income, which ranges from $44,150 for a one-person household, $63,050 for a four-person household and $83,250 for an eight-person household. Tenants who do not meet the income requirements may still be eligible if they are a member of another local or federal assistance program listed at this link.

Harris County

Applicants must meet the following requirements: the landlord must be registered as a program participant; the applicant must reside within Harris County; and the applicant's total household income must be at or below 50% Harris County's average median income, which ranges from $27,594 for a one-person household, $39,406 for a four-person household and $52,031 for an eight-person household. Applicants residing in the city of Houston within Precincts 1 and 2 are eligible. However, city of Houston residents within Precincts 3 and 4 are not eligible for the Harris County program.

Can renters who applied and received relief in May apply again?


Houston

Renters who applied for relief in a previous round of funding for either program may apply again; however, they cannot apply for funds from Harris County and Houston in the same round.

Harris County

Applicants cannot have received other Harris County-related COVID-19 assistance or rental assistance through the city of Houston's COVID-19 rental program. The applicant also cannot be currently receiving other governmental housing subsidies.

Can undocumented residents apply?


Houston

Yes. Unlike Houston’s first round of relief funds, this fund is supported by both federal dollars and private donations. Undocumented residents are eligible for non-federal funds.

Harris County

No. The fund is being reimbursed through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

When do applications open?


Houston and Harris County

Similar to the city’s previous $15 million program, landlords apply first from Aug. 17-26. Tenants can begin applying Aug. 24-30 and will be able to search for their landlord or property management company’s name on the rent relief application.

Renters can apply at www.bakerripleyrenthlep.org.

Applications are available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, Filipino, French, Arabic, Hindi and Urdu.

What documents are needed?


Houston and Harris County

Applicants will need valid photo ID, proof of residence within applicable service area, documentation of lost wages and a copy of statements showing rental amounts due or a notice to vacate.

When will funds be available?


Houston

Applicants will be selected beginning Aug. 31. Landlords will receive notification of selected applicants by Sept. 8. If a landlord has at least one tenant who is approved for rental assistance, that landlord may not evict any tenants in that building through September, regardless of whether the other tenants applied for aid or or were denied aid.

Harris County

After the application process closes, eligible applicants will be entered into a lottery for randomized selection.

Other relief


Harris County is also offering a “Direct Assistance Program” aimed at meeting basic needs, including rent.


  • Total available: $25 million

  • Uses: Housing assistance, food, child care, utility assistance, health care and more

  • Eligibility: Must be at 60% of the average median income pre-COVID-19, before March 11; must be a Harris County resident; cannot have received city of Houston rental assistance; must be able to prove that household was affected negatively by COVID-19. Undocumented residents are not eligible.

  • Website: www.harriscountyrelief.org

  • Additional details: The program prioritizes residents from vulnerable Census tracts. Applications are not currently open but are expected to open in several 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.
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.


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