Concerned that money will go unspent, Austin makes changes to its rent help program

Renters affected financially by the Covid-19 pandemic can now apply for up to six months of rent from town’s rent help program, the place beforehand they might apply for under up to three. The change comes as town worries it received’t have the option to distribute thousands and thousands in funds by a federally imposed deadline.

“The money was not going out the door on the fee of velocity that we had anticipated,” Nefertitti Jackmon, housing and coverage supervisor with town’s Housing and Planning Department, informed KUT.

As of Sunday, town had paid rent for 1,477 households, expending simply $1.7 million of the roughly $12.9 million allotted for the program.

KUT reported two weeks in the past that town was giving out money much more slowly than it anticipated it will. This introduced a possible drawback as a result of nearly all of the funds come via the federal CARES Act and should be dispersed by the tip of the 12 months.

Jackmon informed KUT final month that town didn’t know precisely why fewer folks utilized than anticipated, however stated maybe town had overestimated the quantity of help wanted. At least one tenants advocacy group has complained that the applying course of, which requires tenants to add paperwork like proof of revenue and a lease, is just too burdensome and a few folks don’t even hassle making use of.

“We heard from a group accomplice that persons are scared after they see the selection for Social Security quantity, however you don’t have to have one,” Jackmon stated. She stated town is contemplating amending some necessities, however federal tips make that tough.

The metropolis launched this second rent help program after receiving enormous curiosity in a much more limited program in May. People affected financially by Covid-19 and making lower than 80 p.c of the median household revenue might get one month’s rent, which town pays instantly to landlords. Very low-income renters might qualify for up to three months’ rent.

Now each renter who qualifies can rise up to six months of rent paid, which can be utilized to cowl unpaid rent going again to March. Tenants town decides are eligible are chosen via a lottery system to get funds, which town is now doing weekly moderately than on a month-to-month foundation.

So far, renters have submitted 6,058 functions, according to a memo despatched to City Council members Friday. Jackmon stated about one-quarter of these candidates have been denied for varied causes, like not assembly revenue necessities.

This story was produced as a part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.

The Austin Monitor’s work is made doable by donations from the group. Though our reporting covers donors from time to time, we’re cautious to maintain enterprise and editorial efforts separate whereas sustaining transparency. A whole listing of donors is on the market here, and our code of ethics is defined here.

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