Monday, March 15, 2021

The 2021 RENT Assistance Program Application Portal is Now Open


 REMINDER: The Updated 2021 RENT Assistance Program Application Portal is Now Open

 

RENT Portal Now Open! Renters may apply online from the RENT Application Portal.

Austin, TX – The Relief of Emergency Needs for Tenants (RENT) Assistance Program Application Portal opens on Monday, March 15, 2021. The City of Austin received funding from the U.S. Department of the Treasury through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program in early 2021. The RENT Assistance Program provides $25 million of direct rent support for income-eligible Austin renters who are financially impacted by COVID-19.

The updated program guidelines have been enhanced to address equity, prioritize vulnerable and low-income populations, and create stronger coordination of tenant stabilization services including connecting approved applicants to Austin Energy for utility assistance. Further, renters are not required to be U.S. citizens or legal residents to apply. Renters who received rent support from the 2020 RENT program can apply using the same account; this program can provide funding for the months that have unpaid rent.

The RENT program will randomly select applications weekly on Fridays for processing.  If selected and the application qualifies, payment will be issued directly to the landlord who is owed rent payments.

RENT Program Enhancements & Benefits:

The RENT Assistance Program can help renters financially impacted by the pandemic pay rent as far back as April 2020 until December 2021. 
Significant policy changes from the federal government include the following:

  • Timing for landlord response has been reduced (which allows payments to be made directly to the renter when landlords are unresponsive);
     
  • More flexibility in allowable forms of documentation;
     
  • Allowing for self-certification;
     
  • Categorical eligibility for households approved to receive benefits from other government assistance programs with the same or lower-income limitations; and
     
  • Eligibility for households receiving federal subsidies.

Significant policy changes in the City of Austin's RENT program beginning in March 2021:

  • Tenants and landlords can apply;
     
  • Households may be eligible to receive up to 15 months of rent assistance;
     
  • RENT funds can cover fees on the lease agreement, including internet services, utilities included with the rent, and fees for garage use, storage, service animals, and pets; and
     
  • Through collaboration with Austin Energy, the RENT program will provide approved application information to Austin Energy for Austin Energy customers in need of utility assistance. This will eliminate having to separately apply for utility assistance if the RENT program determines the applicant is eligible.
     

Eligibility Requirements:

To apply, applicants must meet the eligibility requirements below:

  • Have an income of no more than 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI);
     
  • One or more members of your household must have either: qualified for unemployment benefits OR provide proof that due to COVID-19 you: have less income, have more costs or bills, or experienced other financial hardship;
     
  • One or more members of your household must demonstrate they: are at risk of experiencing homelessness or their housing situation is uncertain, which may include a past due utility/rent notice or eviction notice OR live in unsafe or unhealthy housing conditions; and
     
  • Live within the City of Austin Full Purpose Jurisdiction boundaries. Applicants can verify using the City of Austin Jurisdictional Boundaries map. The address on the application must be the applicant's primary residence.
     

Information Needed to Apply:

Renters will need the following information to successfully complete an application:

  • An email address and phone number;
     
  • The following information for each household member: Full name, date of birth, gender, race, ethnicity, relationship to the head of household, and one of the following if you have one: social security number, alien registration number, individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN);
    • There is no requirement for applicants to be a U.S. citizen or legal resident to apply.
  • The household's current address and mailing address;
     
  • Each household member's current gross monthly income (before taxes or deductions are taken out) and types of income;
     
  • The landlord's name, email address, and phone number; and
     
  • A government-issued photo identification for the head of household.

Documents are not required to submit an application. Applicants will be contacted with information on how to submit documentation if the application is selected for eligibility review; however, it may be helpful to start gathering documents in advance.
 

Local Eviction Order Information:

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Steve Adler issued Order No. 20210128-025 that prohibits landlords from issuing notices to vacate except in certain circumstances, locking out renters, and removing property. This ordinance applies to rent payments due until April 1, 2021. Renters still owe rent during this period and eligible households can apply for help through the RENT program.
 
Application Help:

For additional information, including instructions, a how-to video, frequently asked questions, and application assistance, visit www.AustinTexas.gov/RENT, email AustinRENT@cvrassociates.com or call the RENT Call Center at 512-488-1397 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Central-Standard Time, Monday through Friday.

The RENT Assistance Program receives and accepts Video Relay Service (VRS) calls from people who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing. If you speak Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Burmese, Urdu, or Vietnamese, you will be prompted to select your primary language and leave a voicemail when you call the call center.  Your call will be returned within 24-48 hours with an interpreter on the line.

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