More money now available in Texas rent relief program

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) — Hundreds of thousands of surveyed Texas residents are behind on rent payments, according to the latest Household Pulse Survey conducted by the Census.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just extended a federal ban on evictions through June, many renters still don’t know how they will pay back what they owe. A new Texas statewide program aims to help.

The Texas Rent Relief program is a first-of-its-kind statewide rent and utility assistance program. It was launched in February with more than $1 billion in assistance for those who qualify. More funding is available now. After the latest stimulus package, the funds nearly doubled to more than $2 billion.

Officials behind the program estimate the funds could help hundreds of thousands of households. As of March 26, more than 150,000 tenants had submitted applications and more than 150 tenants had been paid.

Bobby Wilkinson, Executive Director of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, said the statewide program can serve as an additional resource to state residents who might already be applying to local rent relief programs.

‘If you’re not happy with your local program, please do apply at the state level,” Wilkinson said. “We’re statewide. We’re available to you. And I think the processes we have in place, and the resources we have, we’re going to get money out the door pretty quick.”

Wilkinson said money could be paid to qualifying renters within weeks if an application is filled out correctly. He advised renters to ensure they submit the correct documents and scan them in full, rather than photographing a single page. He also urged them to ensure their contact information, and the contact information of their landlord, is up to date.

Wilkinson hopes the program can fill the gaps for those who have struggled to get assistance.

“It’s a huge psychological burden to have unpaid rent,” he said. Not everyone gets help and some people fall through the cracks. This is definitely needed. You can see just by the volume of applications that people want and need this program.”

You can find more information about what it takes to qualify and how to apply by visiting the Texas Rent Relief website here.

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