Austin has allocated all of the pandemic-related rental relief funds directed the city’s way this year. According to a Monday press release, the city and the Housing Authority of the City of Austin “successfully deployed” the remaining $35 million in available local and federal funding to 8,298 area households seeking relief from financial pressures imposed by the pandemic and its economic fallout.

The city and HACA allocated all of the emergency rental assistance funds granted by the Department of the Treasury via a local program, the 2021 Relief of Emergency Needs for Tenants assistance program, by November 10.

RENT by the numbers

Here’s how the last round of federal funding was distributed: 

  • $35,365,968.46 went to rental assistance
  • 8,298 unduplicated families (including 2,306 recertifications) received assistance
  • A total of 26,678 months of rent was paid
  • An average of $4,261.99 per household was pad
  • Average assistance received was for 3.91 months of rent
  • Average monthly rent for those who received assistance was $1,062.34

The year in rent relief

The city’s Housing and Planning Department initially selected HACA to assist with distribution of the funds in April 2020. The RENT program has distributed four rounds of COVID-related rental assistance to date, with agencies receiving community input to improve each phase.

On October 14, $6.7 million from the city’s General Reserve Funds earmarked for pandemic-related rent relief was allocated.

“Paying your rent may have been hard even before the pandemic, and the conditions over the past year quickly escalated the need for help,” said Housing and Planning Assistant Director Cupid Alexander. “With HACA’s partnership, we were able to react quickly to a growing need and create a program that distributed over $65 million dollars of rental assistance to over 17,000 Austin families—helping them avoid eviction and stay safe during the pandemic.”

Texas Housers, which offers information on and works to improve low-income housing, recently analyzed all of the state’s emergency rental assistance programs. Based on the RENT program’s effectiveness distributing money quickly and equitably to the households most in need, the independent nonprofit gave the city’s efforts an “A.”

What’s next for households that still need relief?

With all federal and local funds for rental assistance allocated as of Monday, the RENT application portal is temporarily deactivated. Staff is currently working to identify new funding sources, but the city has not yet determined when or if the RENT program will be resurrected.

“We’ve seen a continued need for rental assistance from Austin families,” said Community Displacement Officer Nefertiti Jackmon. “We’ve received over 16,000 applications for rental assistance since March 15, 2021. The Department of the Treasury is currently accepting applications for future allocations, and we hope to be considered for that funding.”