City of Austin launches $17M rent relief plan amid coronavirus crisis

Amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the city of Austin announced a rent relief plan to help locals financially affected by the pandemic.

On Monday, August 17th, the city’s Emergency Aid for Renters (RENT) program was unveiled. The $ 17.75 million plan provides eligible residents with direct rent relief of nearly $ 13 million. The rest will be used for public relations, eviction prevention and support for tenant stabilization, according to a press release.

The RENT program pays one month’s rent for applicants whose household income is between 30 and 80 percent of the median family income. For households earning 0 to 30 percent of the median, rent of up to three months is paid. The money is paid directly to the landlord.

To apply, residents should go to the RENT application portal online. It opens at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, August 19, and will stay open until January 2021, or until all funds have been distributed, the release will be noted.

Recipients will be selected at random, and “all applications, regardless of when they are submitted after the application period first opens, will be given the same chance for random selection,” according to the city.

To be eligible, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Must live within Austin city limits.

  • Must have a gross annual household income of 80 percent or less of the median family income.

  • Must be currently rented or in a contractually bound tenancy.

  • May not receive state rent support.

  • Cannot be a full-time student whose rent is being paid by someone else.

  • Documentation must be provided showing that COVID-19 has affected you financially.

The program is led by the Department of Housing and Community Development (NHCD) and the Austin City Housing Agency (HACA).

“The City and Housing Commission is pleased to offer this vital assistance to help Austin tenants stay in their homes during this difficult time,” said Michael Gerber, CEO of Austin City Housing, in the press release. “The Mayor and City Council provided much-needed funding for this emergency rental aid program to help address the financial impact of COVID-19 on our community.”

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