Houston renters can still get help without landlords applying

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Tuesday, September 15, 2020
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Houston resident Narrada Lewis said he still can't apply for help and he's growing frustrated with the application process for rental assistance.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston tenants whose landlords won't participate in the city's assistance program will be able to submit information for help by the end of the week.

Narrada Lewis is slowly watching his bank account diminish. He's on unemployment, but the extra $300 dollar weekly benefit has ended.

"From all of that, going from here to there, to nothing at all, with no assistance with that. I don't know how I'm going to make it," Lewis explained. "I feel like I'm drowning right now. I can barely keep my head above water."

One way Lewis thought he could stay afloat was with a Houston rental assistance program. The $60 million dollar program has been giving tenants nearly $2,000 for rent.

The landlord must also apply, however, Mayor Sylvester Turner encourages people to still submit an application even if their landlord won't.

A week and a half later, Lewis still can't apply. "You get frustrated, and then you start looking for answers, in which there are no answers," he said.

On Monday, ABC13 searched for answers.

Mayor Turner and BakerRipley, the company that runs the program, said the website will be updated by the end of the week.

Turner told ABC 13 he's still looking for donations to help renters.

"For the new applicants that come in where the landlords didn't apply, we're certainly asking for people to contribute and those dollars will be dedicated to those particular tenants," he said.

The program is still open to tenants whose landlords have applied. New numbers from BakerRipley show 13,000 landlords across Harris County and Houston have applied.

More than 37,000 tenants have applied requesting $52.6 million in rental assistance. So far, 16,000 Harris County tenants have been selected for final verification, and 7,500 in the city of Houston.

While Lewis plans to submit an application later this week, he hopes funding arrives soon before an eviction notice lands on his door.

"I try not to even think of how that could go if we don't get any assistance," he said.

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