HOUSTON - Amid an unprecedented health crisis, Mayor Sylvester Turner today announced a second rental assistance package to help those who lost their jobs and are struggling financially and cannot pay their rent because of COVID-19.
The City of Houston is creating a $19 million rent relief package that will be administered by BakerRipley. Funding will include $15 million from the The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, and $4 million from donors:
- $2 million from the Houston Endowment
- $1 million from the Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund
- $1 million from the Kinder Foundation
Included in the $19 million, money will be set aside for Lone Star Legal Aid and for those who need assistance, but do not qualify for CARES Act dollars.
"The rental assistance will not be allocated on a first come first served basis, but rather we intend to provide a lifeline to those facing immediate eviction with the greatest need. And we will work through that process over the next few days,"said Mayor Sylvester Turner. "Our objective is to help the most vulnerable. Our priority is to ensure quick assistance to help families avoid evictions working alongside landlords willing to provide flexibility and compassion to keep their tenants housed."
The Houston Apartment Association is working with its members to voluntarily implement a grace period.
"We believe rental assistance is the best way to remedy the stress being put on housing providers and residents," said Clay Hicks, Houston Apartment Association president. "We all know there are large overhead expenses to provide housing across our great city and without the monthly rental income, apartment properties can't employ and maintain the thousands of workers that keep our properties running, including the maintenance teams that have become so vital during this time cleaning and disinfecting daily while everyone stay at home."
“We appreciate Mayor Turner’s recognition of our continued efforts to educate and represent low-income Texans facing eviction by providing funding for us to do so. Lone Star Legal Aid is launching an Eviction Right to Counsel Project with the intention of increasing access to justice,” said Dana Karni, Lone Star Legal Aid managing attorney.
Mayor Turner is working closely with city council members and Baker Ripley to design a matrix to assist those who need the dollars the most.
The mayor is also on organizations to help fund the program and grow it to $20 million - $25 million by the time it goes to city council for a vote on Wednesday, Aug. 5.