The Houston-Harris County Emergency Rental Assistance Program kicked off a couple of months ago, but the amount of people looking for help is starting to lessen.
RENTAL RELIEF: Tomorrow, rent is due, and thanks to the Houston-Harris County program, this mom is able to pay it. There’s still $100M available, but applications are starting to slow. @abc13houston at 5pm, what’s being done to get people $, and how easy it is for you to apply. pic.twitter.com/xxUAMucCwA— Nick Natario (@NickABC13) April 30, 2021
HOW MUCH HELP IS AVAILABLE?
The municipalities received $159 million from a federal stimulus bill to help people who are at risk of losing their home. So far, $57 million has been distributed.
However, there's still $102 million available.
"It can cover overdue rent back to the start of the pandemic and then two months forward," said Bart Ferrell, the COO of Catholic Charities. "We're really committed to the stability and housing."
HOW CAN I APPLY?
Start by visiting the program's website. You'll asked to answer a series of questions and upload a few documents.
After you apply, you can go back and check the status of your application.
So far, 50,239 have applied. A total 35,928 are currently in the queue and 14,311 applications are still waiting to start the process.
Lorena Cuatete, a single mom who needed help with four months worth of rent, applied for the program and was approved.
"Don't stress," Cuatete said. "You don't have to cry behind closed doors. So your kids don't see you crying and stressing over bills and everything."
Applications are chosen at random so there's no rush. As long as there's money available, the program is open until the end of the year.
WHO QUALIFIES FOR HELP?
In order to receive the assistance, you must meet certain qualifications. Households must make 80% below the average income, which, for a family for four, is $63,050. You must also experience housing instability or be at risk of homelessness. Lastly, you must have experienced financial hardship as a result of the pandemic.
Although the number of applications coming in has slowed down, officials said they can't expand eligibility.
"These funds are designated from Congress," Ferrell explained. "The eligibility requirements were sent down from the [U.S. Treasury.] We're required to abide by those."
To get more people qualified, officials are also going to eviction courts to inform people about the program.
GETTING IN-PERSON ASSISTANCE
You don't have to apply online. There are "navigator" agencies where neighbors can receive in-person assistance with the application process. Currently, there are 13 locations across the Houston area where you can get help. Starting next week, three additional agencies will welcome tenants to get in-person help.
To find a list of navigator sites, click here.
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