Fort Bend County launches $19.5M rental assistance program June 1

Renters and homeowners in Fort Bend County who are struggling to pay their bills can apply for financial assistance from federal funds received by the county. Pictured above is the 1879 apartment complex at The Grid in Stafford. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)
Renters and homeowners in Fort Bend County who are struggling to pay their bills can apply for financial assistance from federal funds received by the county. Pictured above is the 1879 apartment complex at The Grid in Stafford. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)

Renters and homeowners in Fort Bend County who are struggling to pay their bills can apply for financial assistance from federal funds received by the county. Pictured above is the 1879 apartment complex at The Grid in Stafford. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)

In a 9 a.m. June 1 press conference, Fort Bend County announced it will being accepting applications for its newly launched program to help residents pay rent, utilities and mortgage during the coronavirus pandemic.

A total of $19.5 million for rental and mortgage assistance will be distributed in three phases between June and November, Fort Bend County Auditor Ed Sturdivant said. The county also has $2 million in funds for utility assistance.

“The main criteria for being eligible for these funds [are]: First, you were damaged by this pandemic and, second, you have a need," Sturdivant said.

The maximum amount an approved applicant can receive is $2,000 per month per household: up to $1,500 for rent or mortgage and up to $500 for utilities, Sturdivant said. He added an applicant’s funds will go directly to his or her landlord, mortgage company or utility company to reduce fraud.

Fort Bend County residents can apply for the financial assistance by calling 281-238-2273 or going online to www.coronavirusfortbend.gov/forms-covid19-rental-assistance-program.html.


Fort Bend County residents can apply for the Phase 1 funds until June 12 or until the funds are expended, Sturdivant said. He stressed any county resident—regardless of their citizenship status—can apply. However, applicants must provide a government ID and proof of their utility bills, and mortgage or lease agreement, among other criteria.

Providing help

He and Anna Gonzales, Fort Bend County's social services director, urged everyone to apply as quickly as possible so the county can help them find resources even if they are not eligible or miss the Phase 1 deadline.

“If [residents] have applied—and whether they got in on the first round, or they didn’t make it in before the funding ran out—we will have their application, and we will reach back out to them [during subsequent phases] and ask if they still have a need,” Sturdivant said.

There may be other options available through Fort Bend County Social Services for some residents who may not qualify for these funds, Sturdivant said. There is a possibility that if the need is high for rental, utility and mortgage assistance, Fort Bend Commissioners Court may allocate additional funds for this program, he added.

The funds for Fort Bend County’s program to help residents pay for their rent, utilities and mortgage come from a $134.3 million direct allotment from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, Sturdivant said.

Rev. David Lee Sincere Jr. with Fort Bend Transformation Church, Advocacy Now Institute and The Metropolitan Organization was one of several county residents and officials who spoke at Commissioners Court about the need for rental, mortgage and utility assistance. He said he has received a number of phone calls, emails and stories from residents who require help.

In an interview, he praised the work Fort Bend County Social Services is doing to help residents in need during the pandemic and expressed optimism for the county’s small-business grant program that will help create jobs so residents can recover.

However, he noted the great need for financial assistance for both renters and landlords.

“I don’t think [$19.5 million from the federal government] is enough to help individuals with the plethora of issues that they’re dealing with related to COVID,” Sincere said. “Overall I don’t think it was enough funds over the long term. We don’t know when COVID is going to end. ... The rental assistance program will cover June, July, August, but what about after?”

By Jen Para
Jen joined Community Impact Newspaper in fall 2018 as the editor of the Katy edition. She covers education, transportation, local government, business and development in the Katy area.


MOST RECENT

Filing for the May 1 Katy City Council election opened Jan. 13 and will close Feb. 12. (Nola Valente/Community Impact Newspaper)
Filing period open for Katy City Council election

The filing period is open for residents who hope to be elected in May to serve as a member of the Katy City Council.

Here are the latest coronavirus case count updates in Fort Bend County. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Fort Bend County sees 3,384 new coronavirus cases Jan. 15-21, up 498 from week prior

There were an average of 483.43 COVID-19 cases reported a day last week in Fort Bend County.

Early voting for the May 1 election will run from April 19-27, according to the Texas secretary of state's office. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Filing period open for Katy ISD board of trustees election

The filing period is open for residents who plan to run in the May election to serve on the Katy ISD board of trustees.

Dr. Jacquelyn Johnson-Minter, director of Fort Bend County Health & Human Services, said Jan. 21 that it has been frustrating that the supply of vaccines thus far has been unable to meet the demand. (Morgan Theophil/Community Impact Newspaper)
UPDATED: Fort Bend County COVID-19 vaccine preregistration list hits capacity

Fort Bend County is prepared to receive and administer hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 vaccinations, County Judge KP George said during a press conference Jan. 21. To do so, however, the county must receive the vaccines in the first place.

One local health system leader said he expects everyone, including those under age 65, will have access to the vaccine within the next 90 days. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Houston-area health system leaders talk progress, hurdles during COVID-19

Officials from CHI St. Luke’s Health and UTMB Health said community members must remain vigilant as case counts climb but that they expect the current surge to peak by early February.

During a North Houston Association meeting Jan. 20, Jazz Hamilton—first vice president with the Retail Brokerage Services Group for CBRE—discussed how the future of retail will likely be shaped by the conveniences to which consumers have become accustomed amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
Pandemic-induced retail conveniences are here to stay, official says

According to Jazz Hamilton, first vice president with the Retail Brokerage Services group for CBRE, between January and November of 2020, consumers spent almost $550 billion online—a 33% increase from 2019.

A community bond advisory committee met Jan. 20 for the second of three meetings to review the district's campus and facility capital needs in consideration of a May bond referendum. (Morgan Theophil/Community Impact Newspaper)
New opinion poll will survey residents about proposed Katy ISD bond

Hundreds of residents of the Katy ISD community will soon be asked for their input on a bond that could fund dozens of projects for the school district in the coming years.

The estimated number of active COVID-19 cases in Harris County has surpassed 50,000, reaching 51,362 as of the most recent data Jan. 20, according to the Harris County Public Health Department. (Community Impact staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: Active cases top 50,000

See the latest trends on COVID-19 in Harris County.

Katy ISD officials said they hope to maintain a balanced budget in the 2021-22 school year—one that includes offering competitive compensation, opening Haskett Junior High and prioritizing student safety. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Despite COVID-19, Katy ISD anticipates balanced budget for coming school year

Though the overall effect that the coronavirus pandemic will have on Katy ISD remains unknown, district officials said they hope to pass a balanced budget for the 2021-22 school year.

In addition to vaccine hubs, there are also smaller community vaccine providers throughout Texas, such as pharmacies, that may also have the vaccine available. (Eva Vigh/Community Impact Newspaper)
EXPLAINED: When, where and how Texans can receive the COVID-19 vaccine

As Texas is still in the early stages of rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine, many Texans are still unsure about where, when and how they can get inoculated.

The barbecue eatery is the second Killen's Restaurant Group venture to launch in The Woodlands area. (Courtesy Killen's Barbecue)
Killen's Barbecue opens in The Woodlands and more Houston-area news

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