As tenants wait, the majority of money from the state's rent relief program has been distributed

Nick Natario Image
Wednesday, May 17, 2023
Texas' rent relief program distributes majority of funds
Texas' rent relief program has many tenants waiting in limbo as the state prioritizes distributing money to people facing eviction.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Two months after applying, some tenants are wondering if they'll ever see the money from a state rent relief program.

The monthly bill to stay inside an apartment is becoming too much for some tenants. One Houston area woman who doesn't want to be identified said her rent had risen a lot in just three years.

"It was $700, like about $760 a month," the tenant said. "Now, my rent is up to $1,000."

The woman said the higher rent cost has her looking for help. Two months ago, she applied to the state's rent relief program. She was assigned a caseworker but said she hadn't received any money.

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs said nearly $60 million had been distributed, leaving about $37 million remaining.

So far, it's focused on people with eviction cases. If there's any money remaining, it'll go to others.

"It is frustrating due to the fact they're having you in limbo as to what to do," the tenant said.

A federal report released last week shows rent has climbed by nearly 10% from last year. In two years, it's nearly 15% higher.

The state's program isn't the only assistance. Catholic Charities said there are $3 million to help people in the eviction process.

You can't apply. But candidates are referred during the eviction process. If you can't afford your water bill, BakerRipley could help.

"The additional need for water assistance came as a result of the pandemic," BakerRipley's utility assistance operations manager, Glynniece Herron, explained. "The money is limited. This may be our final year to provide water assistance that's federally funded."

There are $7 million available. If you live in Brazoria, Galveston, and Harris Counties and meet the income requirement, you could get your water bill paid for.

"We review the bill in its entirety to see what our program is able to cover," Herron said.

Some tenants say they need the state's assistance because they aren't sure how they can afford rising rent rates.

"I would probably have to get help from family because I've spoken to them about it and see what they're willing to help me with," the tenant said.

The state agency behind the rent relief program urged those who are waiting on money to keep checking with their caseworker.

You can apply for the BakerRipley program by either calling the agency at 713-590-2327 or filling out an application through its website.

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