Houston & Harris County still offering millions of dollars in rent relief

Local

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HOUSTON (KIAH) The Houston-Harris County Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) has surpassed another significant milestone by providing almost $200 million in rental relief since late February, helping 51,000 families who are struggling financially because of continued pandemic-related job cuts and wage decreases. On average, up to $6 million in aid is going out the door every week.

$86 Million in New Aid Added; – Local Program Among First to Receive Add’l Funds

An additional $86 million in rental relief is coming into the program, and the U.S. Treasury Department announced last week that the Houston-Harris County program will be among the first to receive the new influx of aid, given how quickly the initial funds have been disseminated to help people in need.

This summer, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo visited Houston to see the program first-hand, calling it “one of the nations strongest local ERA [Emergency Rental Assistance] programs" and noting it is run by a "regional partnership through two high-capacity, culturally competent non-profit agencies." Those two agencies, BakerRipley and Catholic Charities, have decades of experience with disaster response and are trusted by Houstons most vulnerable populations.

Leaders from the local program have testified before Congress and spoken at White House round-tables about how the four-way collaboration (City, County, and both nonprofits) has cut red tape and sped up payments to landlords, keeping families from being evicted. National media outlets have acknowledged the partnership’s efficiency. The Washington Post recently called the program “one of the nations exemplars," with additional attention from The New York Times, PBS NewsHour, NPR, Politico, and Congressional Quarterly.

"We are incredibly proud of the effectiveness of our program, which has passed 50,000 households served. With the leadership of the City and County, the administrative expertise of BakerRipley and Catholic Charities, and the strong neighborhood ties of our nonprofit navigators, we have been able to dedicate almost $200 million to keep our neighbors in their homes. The success of our approach goes to show that we are strongest when we work together to support our community members."

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner

"From the beginning, Harris County partnered with the City to make the Emergency Rental Assistance Program a seamless experience, distributing funds quickly to intercept the eviction process. We‘ve shown what can happen when youre flexible, innovative and put people ahead of bureaucracy. We pulled together with a sense of urgency because we recognize so many families simply cannot wait for help to arrive.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo

Federal guidelines now cover up to 18 months of COVID-related overdue and future rent for tenants. People who received help early on can reapply, to request aid for months that were not covered in their first application.

The program is ongoing. Tenants are encouraged to visit HoustonHarrisHelp.org, where they can find the application, eligibility requirements, FAQs, a landlord directory, and a status checker.

A phone line is available at 832-402-7568 six days a week: Monday thru Friday 9am-6pm and Saturday 10am-2pm..

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