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. Screenshot
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. 
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
Contact: Margaret Downing