The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) has recently received $1.3 billion in Emergency Rental Assistance funds from the newly passed Coronavirus Relief Bill Rental Assistance Program. TDHCA will use the funds to help renters in Texas pay both current and past due rent and utility bills.

Applicants can require assistance for past due, current, and up to 3 months of expected rent costs and utility and home energy expenses.

After the initial 3 months of forward assistance, you may apply for 3 more months of assistance if funds are still available.

How do I qualify?

Households must have incomes at or below 80% of the Area Median Income and meet the following qualifications:

  • At least one or more of the household members must have:
    • Qualified for unemployment benefits or
    • Attest in writing that they have experienced financial hardships or a reduction in household income as a result of or during the pandemic
  • Households must also be able to demonstrate that they are either:
    • At risk of homelessness or housing instability, which can be done by providing an eviction notice or past-due utility or rent notice
    • Living in unsafe or unhealthy housing conditions
  • The unit you are renting in the State of Texas must be your primary residence
  • Unpaid rent or utility bills you apply for cannot go further back than March 13, 2020

When can I apply?

Applications from landlords and tenants will be accepted beginning Monday, February 15, 2021 at 8 AM, Central Time. However, TDHCA’s Texas Rent Relief program website and phone systems are currently up and running to help potential applicants prepare.

By February 28, TDHCA will review and commit funds to two priority groups:

  • Households that have incomes at or below 50% Area Media Income
  • Households where one or more members are unemployed as of the date of the assistance application. Households must also have one or more household member who have been unemployed for 90 days prior to the date of the assistance application.

*A percentage of the funds will be set aside specifically for households whose landlords have already sued for eviction. Although the application process is the same, only households in this situation will receive this funding.  

Landlords should:

  • Identify which of your units and households may qualify and confirm their eligibility criteria
  • Reach out to tenants—especially those with language barriers or disabilities—to make them aware of the program
  • Acquire the household’s signature for the application and have it scanned and ready

Tenants should:

  • Determine and confirm their eligibility
  • Gather required documents
  • See if you are in a priority group
    • If yes, make sure to apply or contact the TDHCA call center for assistance, prior to February 28th
  • Tell your neighbors about the program
  • Inform your landlord that you are applying and require their signature

While tenants and landlords can apply separately, it is likely that they will receive help sooner if they cooperate with one another.

Visit the Texas Rent Relief website for more information or to apply online. You may also call their 800 number at 833-9TX-RENT (833-989-7368) for assistance with their application.

Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm focused on advocacy on behalf of low-income and underserved populations. Lone Star Legal Aid serves millions of people at 125% of federal poverty guidelines that reside in 72 counties in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions of Texas, and 4 counties of southwest Arkansas. Lone Star Legal Aid focuses its resources on maintaining, enhancing, and protecting income and economic stability; preserving housing; improving outcomes for children; establishing and sustaining family safety and stability, health and well‐being; and assisting populations with special vulnerabilities, like those who have disabilities, or who are elderly, homeless, or have limited English language skills. To learn more about Lone Star Legal Aid, visit our website at

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