AUSTIN (Nexstar) – Just 52 hours after Texas opened applications for rent reduction, the state was forced to close the portal due to extraordinary demand.
The Texas Rent Relief program saw an influx of more than 100,000 applications just one day after the system opened, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs said. Prior to this week, the most applications seen in a single day were fewer than 20,000.
The department had $96 million in funds available to distribute for rental assistance, but within a day, “requests for assistance far exceeded available funds.”
The portal is closed from 11:59 on Thursday 16 March.
“It’s disappointing, but not surprising,” said Ben Martin, director of research at Texas Housers. “There is an incredible, extraordinary need for renter assistance in the state of Texas right now. We have seen an increase in evictions throughout 2022 and 2023. Renters are really having a crisis right now.
TDHCA will prioritize renters facing eviction for assistance as they begin distributing the limited funds.
Martin points to research showing that only one affordable housing unit is available for every four extremely low-income renters.
“That’s a 75% shortfall of what we need,” he said. “For very low-income renters earning about 50 percent of area median income, there is less than one unit available for every two households looking for them.”
TDHCA said closing the portal will help staff review applications and distribute funds more quickly. Meanwhile, the department is referring those at risk of eviction to seek legal aid. They have provided Texas Law Help as a resource for free or low-cost representation.