HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Hundreds of Central Texans will soon get the rental help they need. In Hays County, more rental assistance is on its way.

A new partnership between the county and a local nonprofit will help create a housing stability program for the area.

The Blanco River Regional Recovery Team (BR3T), a San Marcos-based nonprofit that provides housing stability resources for Hays, Caldwell, Blanco and Guadalupe counties, will be leading the effort.

“Residents of Hays County–they pay a higher percentage of their income towards rent than any of the surrounding counties around us,” said BR3T Executive Director Elizabeth Wills. “They pay more than the national average. So our residents really do need rental assistance.”

$1 million for rental, utility assistance

Hays County Commissioners approved the partnership on Tuesday. They allocated $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to the new program.

“We will be able to pay past due rent for people who qualify to help prevent eviction,” Wills said. “We can pay up to six months of rent for one household.”

Wills said the households have to meet their income guideline, which is 65% of the area median income.

“They have to have a financial hardship, and they have to have housing instability, like an eviction notice,” Wills said.

Along with rental assistance, Wills said the money can be used to help with past-due utility bills as well.

“Especially coming into the winter months,” Wills said. “We don’t want people to be without power.”

Wills believes they’ll be able to help around 250 households with the money. But once it runs out, it’ll have to stop.

“This program will only last maybe 10 months,” Wills said. “They’ll need to be another solution after that.”

But in the meantime, Wills is excited to help more people have housing security.

“We’re able to step in there and fill that gap for them,” Wills said. “It makes all the difference in the world for them to not have that burden of the unpaid rent and the possible eviction.”

How to apply

They plan to launch the program sometime in December. There will be an application on their website where people can apply once it’s up and running.

Wills said if someone needs help applying, they can also go to their office located at 903 I-35 Frontage Rd in San Marcos.

‘They saved our life’

Juan Martinez and Emily Escalante are packing up and getting ready to move into a new apartment in San Marcos.

The couple said it’s something they couldn’t have done without the help of BR3T.

“They’ve helped us with our rent that we were behind,” Escalante said.

She said BR3T also helped them get ahead with one months rent as well.

“They’re the best,” Escalante said. “They saved our life.”