Texas to administer $1B federal COVID-19 rental, utility assistance program


By Bethany Blankley

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) has launched a new rental and utility assistance program to administer more than $1 billion of taxpayer-funded assistance authorized by the latest federal COVID-19 stimulus bill.

The Texas Rent Relief Program is the first of its kind to offer statewide rent and utility assistance to qualifying households.

TDHCA will begin accepting applications for the program on Monday, Feb. 15.

Texans can visit TexasRentRelief.com to learn more about qualifications, required documents and the application process.

To qualify, households must be at or below 80 percent of the area median income and meet other criteria. According to federal guidelines, TDHCA will prioritize applications for households at or below 50 percent of the area median income level and households where one or more members are currently unemployed and have been for at least 90 days.

Landlords are also encouraged to apply on behalf of tenants, who must co-sign the application.

Beginning Feb. 15, applicants can submit their application two ways, by calling 1-833-9TX-RENT (1-833-989-7368) or online at TexasRentRelief.com.

A call center will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST Monday through Saturday.

From mid-March of 2020 through the first full week of 2021, Texas reported a spike in its weekly unemployment claims of over 710 percent, compared to the same period a year earlier, a new analysis by the personal finance website WalletHub found.

Since March 14, 2020, the Texas Workforce Commission has paid $40.6 billion in unemployment claims.

Also since March 14, the commission has processed 7.1 million claims, the most the state has processed since it been recording unemployment data and administering unemployment assistance.

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