AUSTIN (KXAN) — In August, the City of Austin launched the second Relief of Emergency Needs for Tenants (RENT) Assistance Program. The program has $12.9 million and since August, the city says over $1.3 million has been allocated, but officials are working to get more funding to more residents who qualify.
The crisis created by COVID-19 has left thousands of Austinites scrambling to find ways to pay their rent, even though the city currently has a moratorium on evictions.
The city is currently reviewing over 5,000 applications, which have to go through a verification process. More than 5,000 people have applied, but some did not complete their applications or didn’t provide the necessary documentation.
“We would really like to see more households apply, because we want to make sure we are able to get the funding out of the door,” said Nefertitti Jackmon, Housing and Policy planning manager for the City of Austin.
To be eligible for the RENT Assistance Program, you must:
- Live within Austin’s full purpose jurisdiction and make 80% or less of the Median Family Income (MFI):
- Currently be on a lease or contractually-bound rental relationship and are not already a recipient of federal rental assistance programs
- Have documentation showing you have experienced a COVID-19-related income loss (e.g. paystubs, unemployment notice, etc.).
According to Jackmon, the Latino community makes up the largest applicant pool at 36%. They have received the largest number of applications from the 78741 zip code and, to date, have granted funds to 128 households in that zip code.
With other federal, city and county programs, the need hasn’t been as great as anticipated. But as the pandemic continues that could change.
“I want us all to be very cautious. What people might have been able to save, also the $1,200 stipend that many received—those funds are probably expended by now,” said Jackmon.
The City has to allocate about $9 million, which is tied to federal funding, by the end of December. The goal is to distribute about $2 million a month. The one-time application provides assistance for one month or up to three months, for those who are eligible.
To apply, click here.