Assistance to help pay rent could be available for all of Texas by next month

A eviction pilot program could soon be available to all of Texas.
A eviction pilot program could soon be available to all of Texas.(KFDA)
Updated: Dec. 11, 2020 at 9:21 PM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - For those struggling to pay rent due to the impacts of COVID-19, help could soon be on the way.

The Texas Eviction Diversion Program helps those struggling by paying up to six months of rent.

The program currently is only in Potter, Randall and Deaf Smith counties, but plans to be in every county starting in January.

Some say this program could not come at a better time.

“Ever since the pandemic started, our community has had rental assistance through Panhandle Community Services, 211 and the city of Amarillo,” said Kay Pechin, managing attorney, Amarillo Legal Aid Northwest Texas.

Much of that rental assistance is coming to an end.

“That money is running out quickly, quickly. I understand that Panhandle Community Services does not have any more CARES act money for rental assistance,” said Pechin.

With money running out and the CDC moratorium set to expire at the end of the month, some say the Texas Eviction Diversion Program could not kick off at a better time.

“In the Texas Eviction Diversion Program, the landlord is going to get paid at least six months of rent. It does not apply for mortgages so there is no utility assistance attached to it either,” said Pechin.

The difference between this program and others is that the rent is just not halted but paid.

In Randall County, the need has been so great that funding has run out.

“That’s one of the really nice things about this program. It has benefited both parties. The tenants who aren’t able to make their payment because they’ve been directly impacted by COVID, but landlords who have tenants, they’re trying to help them but they’re unable to get paid for that lease that they have outstanding,” said Lori Gunn, regional services program coordinator, Panhandle regional planning commission.

This helping the community as a whole.

“They are in dire straints as well. They are going to get paid their rent so that helps both parties to try and whether this pandemic,” said Pechin.

To become part of the eviction diversion program, there is a process you must go through including a hearing with the justice of the peace.

Applications are still being accepted in potter and deaf smith counties

More information can be found at the Panhandle Regional Planning Commission’s website.

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