HELP COMING SOON for Houston area renters during the pandemic

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The city of Houston's rental assistance program has been up and running for just 24 hours, and it's already proving to be extremely popular.

According to BakerRipley, the nonprofit running the program, more than 1,500 landlords have already signed up, representing more than 4,000 properties.

Renters are eagerly awaiting their turn.

"When I heard about it, I just wondered if it was true," said Jhaquis Davis, a METRO subcontractor who has not been called into work for the past few weeks. "I was definitely excited, but I just want make sure I followed the rules."

Davis, who spoke to ABC13 on Zoom, said he went to his apartment complex's management office to make sure the complex is registered for the rental assistance program, and he has since prepared all the paperwork he needs.

"It's an easy system," said Stephanie Graves, who operates a number of rental properties in the city. "We submitted, and we are educating our residents to make sure they are aware because their part starts on May 13."

The program is meant to help low and middle income Houstonians, and landlords must be pre-registered for tenants to qualify.

To get started, landlords can go to houstonrentassistance.org and sign up. Starting at 10 a.m. on May 13th, tenants can begin to register.

They will select from a menu of qualified landlords and apply for their specific location.

The tenants must be in good standing, other than not being able to pay April or May rent. The landlord must be willing to waive late fees and rescind eviction proceedings.

If everyone qualifies, the program will pay the rent assistance directly to the landlord.

The funding for the program is currently $15 million, which is only available to help with April and May rent. The city estimates between 6,000 to 8,000 families will receive help.

"We have to make sure that on May 13, we apply," Davis said. "You know how many people are going to be ready for 10 o'clock on May 13? There's gonna be a lot. I may be up at 5 o'clock waiting for 10 o'clock."

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