Frequently Asked Questions

How can I apply? When do applications open?

Tenants can apply online here.

What is the program?

The Houston-Harris County Emergency Rental Assistance Program is a $159 million joint program of the City of Houston and Harris County, designed to assist renters experiencing housing instability or who are at risk of homelessness as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic..

Who will distribute the funds?

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and BakerRipley will serve as the program administrators, processing applications and distributing funds. Additional non-profit organizations will help tenants apply for assistance and connect to additional services.

Who is eligible for the program?

The program is available to renters in Harris County or the City of Houston who:

  • Have household income at or below 80% of HUD Area Median Family Income (HAMFI), approximately $63,350 for a family of four or $50,700 for a family of two AND
  • Are experiencing housing instability or are at risk of homelessness; who have past due rent or past due utility bills (electricity, gas, or water) or who have received an eviction notice AND
  • Have experienced financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic: unemployment, reduction in work hours, business closure, or significant new costs

How much assistance is available to each household?

Households approved for the program are eligible to receive rental assistance for past-due rent from April 2020 onward, for months in which no other rental assistance has been received, not to exceed 12 months total. Households may also be eligible for up to two months of future rental support as well as utility assistance for past due electricity, gas, or water bills.

How are applicants selected?

Households with income at or below 50% of HUD Area Median Family Income (HAMFI) or which include an individual who has been unemployed for 90 days or more will be prioritized for assistance. Within those prioritized categories, households will be selected at random (not first come, first serve). Individuals who applied for September-November rental assistance in 2020 at will be asked to submit additional information and included in the applicant pool.

For an explanation of the application selection process, click here.

What sort of paperwork will people need for the application?

The application process will require Proof of Income (annual or monthly), Proof of Residence at the Rental Unit, Proof of Housing Instability (if rental assistance is requested), Proof of Utility Assistance Need (if utility assistance is requested), Proof of Identification, and Proof of Hardship due to COVID-19. See the complete list of allowable documentation for each of these categories.

Is landlord registration required?

Landlords are encouraged to enroll to enable prompt payment of approved applications. Payments will be made to the landlord or utility service company by the program on behalf of the eligible tenant. If landlords fail to respond or refuse to participate despite repeated outreach over 10 days, direct assistance to the tenant may be available. Tenants without landlords who are not enrolled in the program can submit applications.

When can landlords register?

Landlord registration is now open.

If landlords participated in a previous program, do they need to re-register?

Landlords who participated in the 2020 BakerRipley COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program can continue without the need for re-enrollment but should be aware that the Landlord Terms and Conditions have been modified. Landlords who need to update any of the information on their enrollment form should email [email protected].

Landlords who do not want to continue their participation need to email [email protected] to opt out of the program.

What if I need utility assistance?

If you pay your landlord directly for utilities such as electricity, water sewer, trash collection, etc., you may add your total monthly cost for utilities to the monthly amount of rental assistance you are requesting. If you do not pay your landlord for utilities, you may be eligible for assistance through BakerRipley's Utility Assistance Program.

Please note: Income eligibility for this program is significantly lower than the Houston-Harris County Emergency Rental Assistance Program. For example, a family of four can only earn up to $39,750 annually. Income and other eligibility requirements, along with an application link, are on the program web page.

What if I have a question?

Please call our hotline at 832-402-7568.

Call Center hours will be 9 am – 6 pm Monday-Friday throughout the program.

If you suspect fraud has been committed in the Houston-Harris County Emergency Rental Assistance Program, you can file a report with the Office of Inspector General within the U.S. Treasury Department.

You can also report your concerns about the program to the Client Response Team. They will investigate your concerns and get back to you.