AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Just 52 hours after Texas opened applications for rent relief, the state was forced to shut down 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 available funding to distribute for rent assistance, but within one day, “requests for assistance far exceeded available funding.”
The portal is closed as of 11:59 a.m. on Thursday, March 16.
“It’s disappointing, but not surprising,” Ben Martin, the research director at Texas Housers, said. “There’s an incredible, extraordinary need for assistance from renters in the state of Texas right now. We’ve seen evictions rising throughout 2022 and into 2023. Renters are really experiencing a crisis right now.”
TDHCA will prioritize renters facing eviction for assistance as they begin to distribute the limited funds.
Martin points to research showing only one affordable housing unit is available for every four extremely low-income renters.
“That’s a deficit of 75% of what we need,” he said. “For very low-income renters making about 50% area median income, there’s 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. In the meantime, the department refers those at risk of eviction to seek legal assistance. They provided Texas Law Help as a resource for free or low-cost representation.