875 applicants have received share of Texas' $1B rental relief since February

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Fifteen days ago, Eyewitness News first revealed just 134 applicants out of 170,000 were granted a share of Texas' $1 billion rental relief over a span of five weeks.

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs stated software issues were behind the latency.

The video above is from a March 2021 report on the slow speed to which state rental help applications are being granted.

On Wednesday, the state agency said it expects 875 households total will get rent help by the end of this week. The updated total sent to ABC13 on Wednesday accounts for $6 million to pay for past due rent and utility bills. The state added it expects the pace to pick up rapidly in the coming weeks.

Harris County and Houston's own rent relief program, which got underway after the state's program began in mid-February, has allocated $30.5 million to 8,377 families through Wednesday. That's in comparison to the 4,151 total families reported back on March 23.

SEE ALSO: Struggling renters starting to see help but $145M still available in Houston and Harris County program

Originally, the state's program received $1.3 billion from the federal government, with an additional $1 billion added last month.

Despite the significantly hefty bank, the state program remains behind other programs, especially Houston and Harris County's joint program.

So what's changed at the state level, other than the slight increase of total households helped? The state agency said it has a new application software, three vendors, and more than 1,000 staff processing applications.

"We have overcome the obstacles that impeded our early efforts with the program," a representative told Eyewitness News. "The application review and approval process is gaining speed."

The department added, "Being the first out of the gate, we expected some challenges, but were handed an unprecedented winter storm shutting down the state followed by an application software system malfunction."

For applicants, the TDHCA advised them to log into their accounts to make sure all email and phone numbers are correct and that they have uploaded all required documentation, like past due utility bills, all the pages of their lease, and other supporting documents.

And for those with slow or no internet access, the agency has an application hotline at 1-833-989-7368.

The state's online application is through the Texas Rent Relief website.

For those who want to apply with the Houston/Harris County rental relief program, you can visit their joint website portal.

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