AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Rent Relief Program is the first rental and utility assistance program in the country to give out $1 billion to Texans struggling to pay rent.
That’s according to an announcement from Gov. Greg Abbott’s Office and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA). That $1 billion was distributed among more than 174,000 households in the state. Another $52 million has already been set aside to be paid out.
Texas has more than $900 million in rent relief funds remaining, the state says. The rent relief program launched in mid-February and has served households in 95% of Texas’ counties.
“The Texas Rent Relief Program continues to provide an invaluable lifeline to Texans in need of assistance on their rent and utilities,” said Abbott in a statement. “Texas is committed to helping households who have experienced significant financial strains as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are proud to be the first in the nation to achieve this billion dollar milestone.”
While the program has provided $1 billion in rent relief and outperforms other states, a September KXAN Investigation found hundreds, if not thousands of Texans have struggled to get payments. TDHCA complaint records obtained by KXAN found many problems applicants reported focused on application and money disbursement delays.
Texans can apply for the program by calling 1 (833) 989-7368 or by submitting an application online here. The call center is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
To be eligible for rent relief, households must be at or below 80% of the area median income and meet other criteria, the state says. Landlords can apply on behalf of their tenants, who must cosign the application.
The program is prioritizing people who are at risk of eviction, the state says, and more than 15,000 households have had their evictions stopped and removed from their credit records as a result of the program.