Houston City Council approves additional $20M in rent relief

By unanimous vote, Houston City Council approved a second round of rental relief, aimed at citizens hard-pressed by the pandemic and facing imminent eviction.

“It’s not nearly enough. $20 million may sound like a big number, but it’s not nearly enough,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

In addition to $15 million from the Federal CARES Act, Turner says private donors including the Kinder family and Janice McNair pledged an additional $5 million for the relief effort.

Unlike the first round of aid which was distributed on a “first-come, first-serve” basis, this second dispersal will be funneled to those gauged “most vulnerable”.

“There is no place for them to go but the street because they are already paying at that lowest rate,” said Turner of the likely recipients.

The city is also “leveraging” the rent relief by forcing participating apartment complex landlords to suspend evictions on all of their tenants until the end of September.

“They are agreeing not to evict or proceed with eviction for the entire complex, correct?” asked Council Member Ed Pollard.

“That is correct,”  said Turner who later leveled praise at Council Member Tiffany Thomas who chairs the Housing and Community Development Committee.

“With this program, we will be cross-referencing with the county to make sure there is no double-dipping,” said Thomas.

Even fiscal conservatives on Council readily conceded that the flow of relief is essential, given the extent of ongoing hardship.

“Again we are picking winners and losers, but again better to have something done for someone than nothing done for anyone,” said Council Member Greg Travis.

Mayor Turner also announced additional rent relief of $14 million is set for release in September million, with the hope Congress, the state and private donors will provide even more