The state of Texas this week launched a pilot project it hopes will keep tenants in their homes and provide landlords with alternatives to eviction. The Texas Eviction Diversion Program may provide up to six months of rental assistance to tenants who are behind on their rent due to the pandemic and facing eviction. Lump sum payments are made to landlords to cover past due rent. In return, the landlords must allow the tenant to stay in their home and forgive any late fees. Eviction proceedings against the tenant will be dismissed and kept confidential.
Both the tenant and the landlord must agree to participate and meet the requirements.
The following counties are included in the program: Bee, Bexar, Brazos, Chambers, Deaf Smith, El Paso, Erath, Fannin, Grayson, Harris, Jim Wells, Kleberg, Montgomery, Palo Pinto, Parker, Potter, Randall, San Patricio and Wise counties are covered by the pilot.
The program is limited to the pilot counties right now, but expansion is planned for November.
The state has set aside more than $3 million in CARES Act funding for the pilot program.
At the end of September, Gov. Greg Abbott announced the allocation of over $171 million for targeted rental assistance for Texans at risk of becoming homeless due to eviction. Out of these funds, $167 million will go to targeted rental assistance and $4.2 million will be allocated through the Texas Supreme Court to help the state’s legal aid providers and pro bono lawyers provide basic legal services to eligible Texans through the pandemic.
To be eligible, tenant household income must be at or below 200% of the poverty level, which is $52,400 for a family of four. Documentation requirements and other information about the program is available here.
To access the program, go to www.txcourts.gov/eviction-diversion/ or call Texas Legal Service at 855-270-7655.