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Texas Rent Relief shutdown puts some renters in ‘crisis,’ support group says

AUSTIN (Nexstar) – Just 52 hours after Texas opened applications for rent relief, the state was forced to shut down the portal due to unusual demand.

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs said the Texas Rent Relief Program received more than 100,000 applications the day after the system opened. Before this week, the maximum number of applications in a single day was less than 20,000.

The department had $96 million in available funds for rental assistance, but on a single day, “requests for assistance far outstripped available funds.”

The portal closed at 11:59 am on Thursday, March 16.

“It’s disappointing, but not surprising,” said Ben Martin, director of research at Texas Housers. β€œRenters in Texas desperately need help right now. From 2022 to 2023, we’re seeing an increase in evictions. Renters are really going through a crisis right now.”

TDHCA will prioritize tenants facing eviction for assistance when beginning to distribute limited funds.

Martin pointed to studies showing that only one affordable housing unit is available for every four very low-income renters.

“That’s the 75 percent deficit we need,” he said. “For very low-income renters earning about 50 percent of the area median income, there is less than one unit available for every two families looking for them.”

Closing the portal will help staff review applications and distribute funds more quickly, TDHCA said. Meanwhile, the department refers those at risk of deportation for legal aid.they provide Texas Legal Help A resource represented as free or low cost.

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