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The coronavirus rent relief application is opening for Houston and Harris County. Here’s what you need to know.

The latest round of rental assistance for people impacted by the novel coronavirus will begin accepting applications on Monday, Aug. 17. Here’s what you need to know to get help.

Where and when can I apply?

Apply online at www.bakerripleyrenthelp.org

If you’re a landlord, you can apply from Monday, Aug. 17 to Wednesday, Aug. 26. If you’re a tenant and your landlord is approved to participate in the program, you can apply from Aug. 24 to Aug. 30.

How much money is available per tenant? Where does it go?

Nonprofit BakerRipley is administering the program and will give funds directly to participating landlords with approved tenants. Harris County is providing $25 million, and the city is providing $20 million. Tenants approved through the county program are eligible for up to $1,200; tenants approved through the city program are eligible for up to $2,112.

I’m a landlord. How do I tell if my property is eligible?

Check your property in this map to see if you’re located in Houston, Harris County, or both. Only submit one application. Landlords eligible for both programs can choose to opt into both programs during the enrollment process.

What conditions apply to landlords?

The city and county programs require that the landlord gives tenants credit for partial payment and cancel any notices to vacate.

The county program requires landlords take 10 percent off the total past due rent, not begin the eviction process for nonpayment of rent within 60 days of receiving a payout from the program and to try mediation before filing a formal eviction.

The city program requires landlords to enter into an interest-free payment plan for excess fees not covered by the rental assistance. It also bars landlords from initiating any evictions throughout the entire month of September and enter into a payment plan with all tenants who both report problems paying because of the novel coronavirus and who applied for assistance (regardless of whether tenants received the assistance).

I’m a tenant. How can I tell if my landlord is participating in the program?

BakerRipley is creating a Participating Landlord Directory where you can look up your landlord. Participating landlords are encouraged to notify tenants of the program. The directory will be updated several times throughout the day, so keep checking back.

I’m a tenant, and my landlord is participating in the program. What are the other requirements?

The county and the city have slightly different eligibility requirements for tenants. Both require that tenants are having problems paying rent because of economic fallout from COVID-19.

The Harris County program requires the total household income to be below 50 percent of the Area Median Income. (Here’s a chart to see if you qualify, based on household size). Households that received any other COVID-19 related assistance from the county are not eligible.

The Houston program requires tenants to be below 80 percent of Area Median Income (chart here) or to be participating in publicly funded programs like Medicaid, the Gold Card SNAP, WIC or CHIP (the full list of public programs can be found here.)

The list of documents required to prove eligibility is here.

I got rental relief through Houston’s program in May. Can I apply again?

Yes.

Is it first-come, first-serve? If not, how are tenants selected?

When you apply does not impact how likely you are to get assistance. (Houston’s May rental assistance program was first-come, first-serve. The $15 million was used up in 90 minutes.) Harris County will be picking the order of application processing through a random lottery. The Houston program will be based on vulnerability.

What’s the timeline for getting help?

BakerRipley will begin selecting applications after Aug. 31 (selected tenants will be notified and asked for any other documents needed). After Sept. 8, the program will begin making payments to landlords.

I’m a tenant and my landlord won’t enroll in the program. Can I still apply?

No — the program requires landlord participation. Call 2-1-1 to see if there are other resources (or email help@unitedwayhouston.org or search 211texas.org).


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