Mayor Turner Announces a $15 Million Rent Relief Program Which Critics Say Is Not Enough

The masked mayour announcing rental assistance.
The masked mayour announcing rental assistance.

If approved by City Council Wednesday, $15 million in federal funds will be set aside for Houston residents who are behind in their rent payments because of the lost jobs and other financial impacts of COVID-19.

Critics say it's not nearly enough. Mayor Sylvester Turner says it's a start.

The Metropolitan Organization, which wants the city to use about $100 million for rent assistance out of the $404 million in federal CARES Act funding it received, said the $15 million would only help about 11 percent of the families in need.

Under the mayor's proposal, each approved tenant would receive up to $1,056 per month for April and/or May rent payments that were late because of COVID-19's affect on that household's finances.

If the funding allotment is approved, landlords can begin applying on Thursday, May 7 to the program administrator Baker Ripley. They must agree to waive all late fees and work out a payment plan with the renter for any amount about the $1,056 from the city.

Renters, who can begin applying online to Baker Ripley on May 13, can qualify for the program by showing that they made on-time rent payments prior to April 2020 and that they make less than 80 percent of the area median income.

The relief funds will be awarded on a first come, first serve basis. The council will also be asked to approve moving $8 million in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development money the city has received to rental assistance.

"The hope is to try to prevent these families from falling into a state of homelessness and finding themselves on the streets," the mayor said. 

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