A rental relief program from the city of Austin has so far helped more than 750 residents access nearly $900,000 to cover rental costs for up to three months.
The city introduced a new dashboard Wednesday that showcases how much rental relief money has been distributed since late August when the program debuted. The Relief of Emergency Needs for Tenants, or RENT, program aims to provide rental aid to low-income residents who have been impacted by COVID-19.
But that's only a fraction of the $12.9 million allocated for rental relief efforts. As of Thursday morning, 776 recipients out of 2,600 applicants have received $897,698 in approved rental assistance. That means only 29.8% of applicants have qualified for rental assistance.
The typical household received $1,095 toward monthly rent, according to the dashboard, which also breaks down recipients per ZIP code, industry, ace/ethnicity, as well as household size and income.
Approved applicants have their rental money distributed directly to their landlord. Also, only those making between 0% and 30% of Austin's median family income qualify for rental assistance all three months. Anyone making between 30% to 80% of the median family income only qualify for one month of relief.
To better promote the RENT program, the city has partnered with nonprofit organizations to assist renters in the application process. The city announced Wednesday it spent $400,000 to partner with these community organizations, which focus outreach efforts on the following factors:
Low-income residents in ZIP codes with high COVID-19 rates
- Black and Latinx
- Large households or families with children
- People with disabilities
- People with limited English proficiency
According to the city, recipients are selected randomly from the pool of qualified applicants. Such drawings occur "periodically over the comings months" or until the $12.9 million relief fund dries up.
"All applications, regardless of when they are submitted, will be given equal chance in the selection process," the city's website states.
Qualifications also balance household size with income, as applicants cannot make more than 80% of the city's median family income. Want to know if you qualify? Follow this basic breakdown to see if your household income is lower than the maximum threshold:
- I person=$54,700
- 2 people=$62,500
- 3 people=$70,300
- 4 people=$78,100
- 5 people=$84,350
- 6 people=$90,600
Also, be ready to show evidence that COVID-19 has created financial hardships, such as paystubs and unemployment notices.
For more information about the relief program and eviction information, visit the RENT assistance homepage.
After a truly impactful year on the aviation industry, Norwegian Air announced that due to COVID-19 and government advice discouraging travel, it would abandon its long haul flights to focus on its European audience for the time being.
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There's nothing Austinites look forward to more than South by Southwest, and this year, the annual event returns as a digital experience.