Keep up with what’s happening in the Texas rental housing industry

State rental assistance program announced

Synopsis

Texas is expected to make up to $167 million of CARES Act funding available for a statewide rental assistance program, as well as a new Eviction Diversion Program. Learn more.


Key takeaways

  • The state is expected to use up to $167 million in CARES Act funding for a new rental assistance program, as well as a new Eviction Diversion Program being piloted this month in 20 Texas counties (see related story).
  • Details and additional approvals must still be finalized, so the assistance may not be available for several months.
  • Both property owners and residents will be able to apply for the rental assistance, though there will be specific income qualifications, a need to show financial impact from the pandemic, and other specific requirements.
  • The rental assistance program can cover back rent from April 2020 forward, limited to six months’ rent.

In late September, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that more than $167 million of CARES Act funding would be used for a state rental assistance program, as well as for eviction diversion efforts (see related article).

The Texas Apartment Association applauds Gov. Abbott, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) and the Texas Supreme Court for developing these vital programs.

Details of the rental assistance program are still being finalized and will be discussed by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) Board on October 8.

Following TDHCA board action, there will be a short public comment period and then the program must be approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). As a result, it may take several months before the rental assistance funds are available.

Based on the draft proposal, it is expected that the program will provide up to six months of rental assistance and will be able to be used both for rent owed back through April 2020, as well as future rent. In addition, it is expected that rental property owners will be able to apply directly for the funds.

Eligibility requirements will limit the maximum amount of rent that can be reimbursed as established by TDHCA, as well as requiring eligible households to have an income of no more than 200 percent of poverty or 80 percent of Area Median Income. To be eligible, households will also have to be financially impacted by the pandemic and not live in public housing or receive housing vouchers.

Owners participating in the voluntary program will have to agree to waive late fees and court fees, release residents from liability and not evict them for non-payment of rent for the rental period covered by the program, and not have applied (and will not apply) for assistance from another program.

While most of the funds will be used for direct rental assistance, about 10 percent of the funding will go to the statewide eviction diversion program that is expected to launch in November following the more limited pilot project that starts on October 12.

TAA had been in contact with the Governor’s office and TDHCA about the need for a statewide assistance program to supplement existing programs in many communities, as well as to provide funding in areas where such programs are not currently available. Among other issues, TAA called on state officials to make the application process simple and allow for direct reimbursement to rental property owners. TAA also continues to advocate for additional federal rental assistance.

More details about the program will be posted on the TAA website (www.taa.org) as they become available.

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