City News

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

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

house key on a keychain
The RENT application portal opens August 19. Witthaya Prasongsin/Getty Images

Amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the City of Austin has announced a rent relief plan to support locals who have been financially impacted by the pandemic.

On Monday, August 17, the city's Relief for Emergency Needs for Tenants (RENT) Assistance Program was revealed. The $17.75 million plan will grant almost $13 million in direct rent relief to eligible residents; the remainder will go toward community outreach, eviction prevention, and to support tenant stabilization, says a release. 

The RENT program will pay 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, up to three month's rent will be paid. The funds will be paid directly to the landlord. 

To apply, residents should go to the RENT application portal online. It opens Wednesday, August 19, at 8 am and will remain open through January 2021, or until all funds have been distributed, notes the release.

Recipients will be chosen at random, and "all applications, regardless of when they are submitted after the initial opening of the application period, will be given an equal chance for random selection," the city says.

To be eligible, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Must live within Austin’s city limits.
  • Must have a household gross annual income at 80 percent or less of the median family income.
  • Must be currently on a lease or in a contractually bound rental relationship.
  • Must not be receiving federal rental assistance.
  • Must not be a full-time student whose rent is paid by someone else.
  • Must provide documentation showing that COVID-19 has affected them financially.

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

“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, in the release. “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.”