Last chance to apply for rent assistance from the City of Austin, millions of funds still available

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin renters have a few more days to apply for rental assistance through the city’s Relief of Emergency Needs for Tenants (RENT) Assistance program before millions of dollars in aid expire.

As of Wednesday, more than $2.5 million was still available and allocated for the program through federal CARES Act funding. Local governments must utilize this money before it expires on Dec. 30, but the City of Austin committed to dispersing the remainder of those funds to the “next round of randomly selected applicants.”

Michael Gerber, HACA President and CEO, said the program has helped local families to avoid eviction and allowed them to stay in their homes and stay safe during the pandemic.

“To be going through what we’ve gone through as a city, state, as a country over the last 10 months, so many of us have been blessed to have a roof over our heads,” he said. “Far too many of our neighbors have not had that benefit. Jobs have been lost. People have faced incredible hurt and pain.”

According to the city, the Housing Authority of the City of Austin already disbursed more than $10 million and helped over 3,000 Austin families since August.

Gerber said nearly 8,500 thousand people had applied. Some didn’t meet the requirements, but 2,500 applicants were still in the lottery pool, waiting to see if they will be chosen as a recipient.

With the portion of the original $12.9 million left, he estimates they can award funds to 1,000 of those waiting applicants.

Estimates from the Housing Authority for the City of Austin on the number of RENT Assistance Program applicants.
(KXAN graphic)

Still, they are calling on any other qualifying Austin renters who have experienced a COVID-19-related income loss to submit their applications by Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 11:59 a.m.

“We’ll serve as many people as we can with those dollars that are remaining, and at the very least we will have a good list of names of neighbors and hopefully be able to connect them with other services and supports, or future dollars that may be coming,” Gerber said.

Applicants must meet several requirements in order to be approved, including:

  • Must live within Austin’s full purpose jurisdiction
  • Must be currently on a lease or in a contractually bound rental relationship
  • Must not be already receiving federal rental assistance
  • Must not be a full-time student whose rent is paid by someone else
  • Must provide documentation showing that you have experienced a COVID-19-related income loss, such as paystubs, unemployment notice, etc.
  • Household gross annual income must be 80 percent or less of the Median Family Income
(Graphic provided by the City of Austin and the Housing Authority)
  • For more information on how to apply, click here.

Gerber said they are confident they will be able to disperse these funds before the end of the month.

Travis County has a Rental and Mortgage Assistance program, as well. That program still has around $1.8 million in funds available to disperse. So far, their staff members distributed around $4.7 of the allotted $6.5 million dollars to aid more than 5,700 county residents.

According to a spokesperson for the county, applicants can live anywhere within Travis County, but they must certify that they have not received CARES Act funding from another entity, like the City of Austin, during the same time frame.

The county is still processing applications for the remaining funds, but Travis County Commissioners are expecting an update from county staff on this process at their Dec. 22 meeting.

Additional information for the city of Austin program can be found at www.AustinTexas.gov/RENT. Interested applicants can also call the RENT Call Center at 512-488-1397 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Anyone needing hearing or speech accessibility using TDD or TYY technology may call Texas Relay Services by dialing 7-1-1 for assistance.

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