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City of Austin launching $17 million rental assistance program

The application portal opens Aug. 19 and will remain open through the start of 2021 or until funds are expended.

AUSTIN, Texas — On Wednesday, Aug. 19, the City of Austin is officially launching a new assistance program to help local renters.

The Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department (NHCD) and the Housing Authority of Austin (HACA) have dubbed it the Relief of Emergency Needs for Tenants (RENT) Assistance Program. The $17.75 million program will provide $12.9 million in direct rent support for eligible renters who are financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also offer related support for tenant stabilization, eviction prevention and direct community outreach.

The application portal launches Wednesday at 8 a.m. and will remain open through January 2021 – or until funds are expended. Eligible applications will be selected at random and payments will be issued directly to the landlord in the full rent amount. All applications will be given an equal chance for selection, regardless of when they are submitted.

One month of paid rent will be available to households whose income is between 30% and 80% of the median family income. Up to three months of paid rent could be available to households whose income is between 0% and 30% of the median family income.

“The City and Housing Authority are thrilled to be able to offer this critical support to help Austin renters stay in their homes during this difficult time,” said Michael Gerber, CEO of the Housing Authority of the City of Austin.  “Mayor and City Council provided much-needed funds for this emergency rental assistance program as a critical step in assisting with the financial impacts of COVID-19 in our community.”

RELATED: The state of renters and jobs in the Austin area during the pandemic

“We are thrilled to partner with HACA to move funds quickly to help as many Austin renters as possible, recognizing that while the $12.9 million provided by the RENT program is not enough to meet the overwhelming need, it is a proud step we can take to help Austin renters in need,” added NHCD Director Rosie Truelove.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Applicants must live within Austin’s full purpose city limits.
  • Applicant household gross annual income must be 80% or less of the median family income.
    • A one-person household would need to make an annual income of $54,700 or less to qualify.
    • A two-person household would need to make an annual income of $62,500 or less to qualify.
    • A three-person household would need to make an annual income of $70,300 or less to qualify.
    • A four-person household would need to make an annual income of $78,100 or less to qualify.
    • A five-person household would need to make an annual income of $84,350 or less to qualify.
    • A six-person household would need to make an annual income of $90,600 or less to qualify.
  • Applicants must be currently on a lease or in a contractually bound rental relationship.
  • Applicants must not be already receiving federal rental assistance.
  • Applicants must not be a full-time student whose rent is paid by someone else.
  • Applicants must provide documentation showing that COVID-19 has affected them financially (e.g., pay stubs, unemployment notice, etc.).

RELATED: Austin mayor extends evictions moratorium through Sept. 30

What applicants will need to provide when applying:

  • A valid email address and a phone number (Applicants can create one for free at gmail.com). 
  • Information about each person in your household: Full name, date of birth, gender, race, ethnicity, relationship to the head of household, social security number, alien registration number, or ITIN number. (If you have one. Please note that applicants who do not have an identification number may still apply.)
  • Proof of your household’s gross annual income as of Dec. 31, 2019. 
  • Proof of your household’s current gross annual income.
  • Proof of COVID-related income loss affecting the household.
  • Photo ID of the head of household, as well as current address and mailing address.
  • A copy of your current lease, rental agreement, or invoice (for extended stay hotels). 
  • Landlord’s name, email address and phone number.
  • Paper and pen to write down your RENT application confirmation number. 

The NHCD has also announced $400,000 in RENT Community Outreach grants to organizations that are offering services for tenant stabilization, eviction prevention and direct marketing and outreach to focused populations. Grant requests between $1,000 and $50,000 will provide funds to community-based organizations, nonprofits and small businesses to expand RENT program reach to those affected by COVID-19. Click here for more information on these grant opportunities.

The RENT application portal will be available here starting on Wednesday. You can also call the RENT Call Center at 512-488-1397 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m Monday through Friday.

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