Austin’s coronavirus relief program helped more than 3,700 people pay rent in May

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — An assistance program created by the City of Austin helped 3,715 people struggling financially because of the COVID-19 pandemic pay their rent in May, according to a new memo released by the city.

Rosie Truelove, the director of the Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department, detailed in a memo Wednesday to the mayor and City Council members that almost 1,680 households received financial help from the Relief of Emergency Needs for Tenants (RENT) Program. The payments for emergency rental assistance totaled more than $1.2 million.

Truelove’s memo also shared information about the people who received help from the RENT Program. According to the data, 47.3% of the people served by the program identified as Hispanic or Latino, while the remaining 52.7% were not Hispanic or Latino. An additional breakdown by race stated that 66.8% of people served were white, and 19.7% were Black.

The memo showed that only 6% of people helped by the RENT Program had a disability, and 2.8% of those served in May were veterans.

The memo noted that emergency rental assistance went to households in every area of the city, but the highest concentration of payments happened in zip codes located in northeast and southeast Austin.

Truelove concluded in her memo that her department is working to “enhance program design to better serve the most vulnerable population and to better reach targeted populations.” She also wrote there are plans to launch an expanded RENT Program in the weeks ahead, though no specific timeline was given.

The city’s Housing Trust Fund funded the RENT Program, while the Housing Authority of the City of Austin administered it.

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