Texans still have time to apply for these rent relief programs

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- With the economy on the rebound, some economists say it's time to end boosted benefit programs, but there are some that may need to last until 2022.

TEXAS ENDS ITS RENT RELIEF APPLICATION WINDOW

Friday evening was the last time Texans could apply for the state's rent relief program. Participants who started the process by 5:00 p.m. can still work on their application for the next three weeks.

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs leads the program that launched nine months ago.

The program had about $2 billion to help Texans, but the agency said it is running low on funds after helping more than 230,000 families.

OTHER RENTAL RELIEF IS STILL AVAILABLE

The City of Houston and Harris County, as well as Fort Bend County, still have rental relief money available. So far, the Houston and Harris County program has helped 62,700 families.

It has distributed more than $244 million, and there's still $40 million left.

The application process remains open.

Ashley Boone, a mother of two, took advantage of the program after she received an eviction notice.

"I would go into the restroom and cry when they would sleep," Boone said. "I didn't want them to see me crying and stressing, and I remember asking God, 'Please, please, please send some type of help.'"

Boone applied and three weeks later, she received a check that covered six months worth of rent.

"Like a kid seeing Christmas gifts under the Christmas tree," Boone said. "It was a blessing. Amazing. I was happy."

There's still money in Fort Bend County. So far, it has distributed $13 million, and there's still $28 million remaining.

Tenants can apply online or in person this Saturday at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. The church is located at 1600 Avenue D. in Rosenburg, and tenants can apply from noon until 4:00 p.m. They must bring identification, a copy of a lease and proof of housing instability.

The City of Houston, Harris County and Fort Bend County might all get more money soon. Each is applying to receive funds from other programs across the country that are not using the rental relief money.

ARE RENTAL RELIEF PROGRAMS STILL NEEDED?

On Friday, the latest jobs report was also released. It showed more than 500,000 jobs were added nationwide in October, and the unemployment rate decreased to 4.6%.

Dietrich von Biedenfeld, an assistant professor at the University of Houston-Downtown, said the report is positive, but we still have some ways to go.

"Don't jump for joy," Biedenfeld said. "Be pragmatic and cautiously optimistic. It's higher than expected, but recognize even with these jobs gains, and some of the salary increases, that we still have inflation costs and supply chain bottlenecks."

To reduce inflation, Biedenfeld said some boosted benefit programs should end. However, he believes some may need to continue.

"They need that rent relief as they re-enter the workforce to offset debts they accrued throughout the pandemic layoffs and so forth, but I also think the blanket relief does have to stop soon," Biedenfeld said.

He said education programs may have to last longer since it can take a couple years for people to learn a new skill.

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