Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner to spend $15 million on rent relief for Houstonians

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — Mayor Sylvester Turner is set to announce a rent relief program that will use millions in federal COVID-19 relief money to help Houstonians pay their rent.

According city council agenda documents, Turner wants to allot $15 million in federal CARES Act funding for the rent relief program.

City council is set to vote on the program this Wednesday, and if approved, it will be managed by the well-known local non-profit, BakerRipley.

If approved, BakerRipley will provide up to $1,056 of rental assistance per month to qualified low-to-moderate income people who could not pay their April and/or May rent.

Documents show the program is anticipated to help at least 6,818 people across Houston. In reality, because many renters are families, the actual number of people helped could be much higher.

According to those briefed on the program, qualifying individuals will not get a check. Rather, BakerRipley will issue the rent payment directly to the renters’ landlords.

The landlords who agree to participate in the program will need to agree to certain terms:

Waive all late fees, penalties and interest for the two months.Allow tenants to enter a payment plan for any rent due in excess of $1,056.Rescind any prior notice to vacate and halt any prior eviction proceedings for the two months.

Not sure if you qualify? According to the proposed order, renters must meet the following criteria:Live inside the city of HoustonBe late on residential rental payments for either or both the months of April and MayBe current on their rent for all months prior to April 2020Affirm that their inability to pay is due to financial hardship resulting from the economic impact of COVID-19Have income less than 80% of the Area Median Income (approximately $40,000 for one person or $60,000 for family of four) or qualify for one of the programs listed in the application (e.g. Medicaid, WIC, SNAP, Head Start, or VA Pension)

The program already has the support of the Houston Apartment Association, which estimates it could help a number of workers in the service industry, many of whom were laid off from their jobs because of restaurant and bar closures.

If passed by city council on Wednesday, the rental assistance program is expected to be quickly rolled out by BakerRipley, with applications available soon.

Follow Miya Shay on Facebook and Twitter.

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