AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) reopened the Texas Rent Relief (TRR) application portal from March 14-28.

The program offers rental and utility assistance with COVID-19 federal emergency rental funds. According to the state agency, as of 11:30am Tuesday, they received more than 10,000 applications.

It caused some delayed load times on the website for applicants like Eva Cortez.

“I clicked on it, and it wasn’t loading. I was like, I’m just gonna leave it there and see if it loads, and then eventually it loaded,” Cortez said.

Cortez lives in Austin and is facing eviction. She said without this assistance, she won’t be able to afford her apartment.

“I have a son, too. So I don’t want to be homeless,” Cortez said.

The program is accepting applications for the remaining $96 million in rent relief funds. It’s aimed at helping 15,000 households.

A notice on their website reads, “We understand some people were unable to access or start a new application while the program experienced a significantly high volume of applications on March 14, 2023. Our team has now resolved these issues.”

Applicants who are going through the eviction process are prioritized. Cortez said she hopes she’ll get that confirmation.

“I would be so happy, so relieved, not so stressed,” Cortez said.

The program is accepting applications through March 28.

Why are there so many applicants?

Hannah Durrance is the Program Director with Home Center, an organization providing casework for people experiencing homelessness. She said so many people need this help.

“Rental costs have gone up anywhere between $100 and $500 a month in certain areas,” Durrance said.

She spent the day trying to get through applications for some of her clients, but she’s worried about those out there who don’t have a way to apply.

“It’s going to target individuals who already have that technology in their homes, and are able to easily scan and upload these documents,” Durrance said.

What are the requirements to apply?

To qualify for this assistance, renters must show they are at risk of homelessness or hurting financially because of COVID-19.

That includes:

  • Past due utility/rent notice(s)
  • Eviction notice
  • Having to move to unsafe/unhealthy living conditions but for assistance
  • Reduction/loss of income/ Increased expenses/financial hardship
  • Qualified for unemployment benefits

First-time applicants may be eligible for up to 18 months of rent and utility bill assistance, either with past due payments or a combination of past due and up to three months of current and future payments made on their behalf.

Returning applicants who have not received the maximum allowed 18 months of assistance for rent and/or utility bills can submit an Additional Funding Request via their existing online user account.