Houston OKs $20M in rent relief with provision to delay evictions

Another $20 million in relief will be available soon for Houston residents struggling to pay rent. (Community Impact staff)
Another $20 million in relief will be available soon for Houston residents struggling to pay rent. (Community Impact staff)

Another $20 million in relief will be available soon for Houston residents struggling to pay rent. (Community Impact staff)

Houston City Council has approved a new infusion of federal coronavirus aid and private donations to offer up to $20 million in rent relief, an expansion of a $15 million program in May that now includes a provision requiring participating landlords to delay evictions through September.

Applicants will be prioritized based on a vulnerability scale, based in part on the income status and level of rent being paid, Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

"There's no place for them to go but the street because they're already paying at the lowest rate," Turner told City Council members Aug. 5 before the vote to launch the program.

However, Turner stopped short of calling for a citywide rent grace period, despite calls from the Housing Stability Task Force to adopt one.

"If you simply impose any sort of grace period, it does not remove the financial liability," Turner said. "I've taken a look at other places like New York. ... They acknowledge, when their grace period comes to an end, they are facing a tsunami of a situation where the financial obligation has not been eliminated."


Instead, the program adds a requirement that participating landlords refrain from evictions through September and waive interest and late fees for all tenants, Turner said. Funds will be sent directly to landlords on behalf of an eligible recipient, who can receive up to $2,112 to pay back one or more months of rent. An estimated 3,700 landlords participated in the previous program.

"We anticipate having a large number apply this time as well," Turner said.

The landlords must follow the guidelines for all tenants even if only one receives aid through the program. They will also be required to implement payment plans.

Another $500,000 is being allocated to Lone Star Legal Aid to offset costs for assisting any tenants.

The Houston Endowment, the Greater Houston Community Foundation Relief Fund, the Kinder Foundation and Janice McNair were credited for donating funds.

"I'm glad that we're doing this. ... Obviously we have too much need and not enough funds," City Council Member Greg Travis said.

Turner said the program will open for applications once it finalizes a partnership with BakerRipley to administer it.
By Matt Dulin
Matt joined Community Impact Newspaper in January 2018 and is the City Editor for Houston's Inner Loop editions.


MOST RECENT

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.

R2, an autonomous delivery vehicle by Nuro, is delivering Domino's pizza to select customers in the Heights area starting April 12. (Courtesy Domino's)
Domino's, Nuro testing robot pizza delivery in the Heights

The robots are coming, and they are bringing pizza.

"Breaking Strongholds" is a faith-based, eight-episode series that explores topics such as suicide and depression. (Courtesy Terry Weaver)
Series shot in Montgomery County aiming for Hulu, Netflix deal and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.