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

The seven-day rolling average of deaths per day in Harris County has increased from 3.86 on July 8 to 8.29 on July 12. (Community Impact Staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: After three weeks of surging cases, death toll starts to rise

The seven-day rolling average of deaths per day in Harris County has increased from 3.86 on July 8 to 8.29 on July 12.

Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath announced in a June 30 State Board of Education meeting that students will be taking the STAAR in the 2020-21 school year. (Courtesy Pixabay)
Education organizations call for STAAR requirements to be waived another year

Gov. Greg Abbott waived the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, testing requirements in March of earlier this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

With a clinical background in internal, pulmonary and critical care medicine, Corry has been with BCM for 20 years. He now focuses primarily on inflammatory lung diseases, such as asthma and smoking-related chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. (Graphic by Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: Baylor College of Medicine's Dr. David Corry discusses immunity, vaccine production amid COVID-19 pandemic

Rapid development and distribution of a vaccine worldwide and successful achievement of herd immunity will be key players in determining the lifespan of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Dr. David Corry, a professor of Medicine in the Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology Section at Baylor College of Medicine.

hand sanitizer
Katy-area confirmed COVID-19 cases reach 3,327, per July 10 data

Katy-area confirmed COVID-19 cases have reached 3,327, per July 10 data.

The new partnership will provide on-site, same-day testing and results for assisted-living facility staff and their residents. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
State announces partnership for increased COVID-19 testing for patients, staff at assisted-living facilities, nursing homes

These test sites will help the state work toward the goal of processing up to 100,000 tests in the first month.

Texas Medical Center reports only 4% uptick in ICU bed use despite continued COVID-19 case increases

Compared to 1,350 total intensive care units in use June 30, Texas Medical Center has seen only a slight uptick in occupancies since then, with 1,394 reported July 9.

When interest rates are low, homeowners may look to save money by refinancing, which means getting a new mortgage with a better term or interest rate to lower payments. (Source: Matt Frankel/Community Impact Newspaper)
Refinancing a home, police departments address protests: Popular news this week from Greater Houston

Read popular stories from the Greater Houston area on Community Impact Newspaper’s website.

open sign
DATA: More than 40,000 jobs retained in Katy area due to first round of federal PPP loans

In total, Katy and Fulshear businesses received more than $261.8 million in federal aid.

Houston Methodist Continuing Care Hospital
Katy-area hospital hosts wedding for COVID-19 nurse at new garden

Jorden Wilson had to cancel her wedding because of the coroanvirus pandemic, but her colleagues worked to convert a new rooftop garden as an impromptu wedding venue.

Coronavirus cases continue to rise in Harris County. (Community Impact Staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: 907 cases, 12 deaths confirmed July 9

The 12 deaths—the largest single day total in Harris County since the pandemic began—brings the total COVID-19 death count in the county to 423.

Effective July 9, hospitals in more than 100 counties across the state must now postpone elective surgeries unrelated to COVID-19. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
MAP: Governor expands restrictions on elective surgeries to more than 100 Texas counties

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott expanded the restrictions that initially required only hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis counties to postpone all non-medically necessary surgeries and procedures that are unrelated to COVID-19.