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Texas establishes eviction-diversion program for tenants behind on rent

The program includes more than $171 million in CARES Act funding for rental assistance.

AUSTIN, Texas — In an emergency order posted on Friday, the Texas Supreme Court established new procedures for tenants and landlords intended to avoid evictions for tenants behind on rent amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to an advisory from the court, the Texas Eviction Diversion Program will channel $171 million in federal funds for landlords to provide an alternative to evictions. Part of that money is provided by funds from the CARES Act.

Eligibility for rental assistance will be determined by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, the court said.

Of the funding for the program, $167 million will go to rental assistance, while $4.2 million will be allocated to help the state's legal aid providers and pro bono lawyers provide basic legal services.

"The Texas Eviction Diversion Program is crucial to our state's response to COVID-19, and it will help many families recover from the impact of the pandemic without the looming threat of eviction," said Gov. Greg Abbott. "This innovative partnership, coupled with the renters assistance provided through CARES Act funding, will strengthen our economic recovery efforts and provide a lifeline to renters and property owners alike." 

According to the order, an eviction proceeding may be called off by agreement for 60 days.

“Courts will provide tenants with information about the program and court records for participants will be confidential while eviction cases are delayed,” the advisory said.

The order also outlines a procedure for reinstating an eviction, which must be done within the 60-day abatement period.

The program will take effect in “pilot” counties on Oct. 12 and on Nov. 9 for all other Texas counties.


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