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Prevent Evictions and Pay Your Bills: Partner with Tenants Now to Apply for Free Rent, Utilities Assistance

🕐 4 min read

KRISTEN CAMARENO, MINDY COCHRAN
AND MARY-MARGARET LEMONS

COVID-19 and the subsequent eviction moratoriums of the past year created a cruel irony for many property owners and landlords: tenants who lost jobs or income as a result of the pandemic could no longer pay rent. Without rental income, landlords could not pay their own mortgages and property taxes.

While the courts weigh whether to uphold moratoriums, there is plenty of help available: Texas, Tarrant County and most metropolitan governments have millions in free grants available to help residents and landlords. Grant money is generally available through Sept. 30, 2025, under a second round of funding the federal government released in March.

All a landlord or tenant has to do is begin an application online, upload documents proving that the tenant lost income due to COVID-19 any time after March 13, 2020 – the date of the federal COVID-19 disaster declaration – and prove the debts that are owed on unpaid rent and/or utilities.

The City of Arlington took the lead early this year, providing a strong model for how application information would be gathered, evaluated and processed.

Tarrant County has simplified navigation of available programs with the web portal www.GetRentHelp.com. The website has an easy drop-down menu to help applicants find their city’s application page and offers a help line – 817-850-7950, select Option 1 – for those less familiar with web-based applications. The county’s program serves all cities within its jurisdiction except Fort Worth and Arlington, which administer their own programs.

Most entities are processing applications through the user-friendly Neighborly application platform.

The City of Fort Worth enlisted partner agencies including the Cornerstone Assistance Network, Fort Worth Housing Solutions, Housing Channel, The Salvation Army and Samaritan House to work with applicants, evaluate cases and process awards.

The efforts have a unified goal: get the vast funds appropriated for rent relief by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs to the people who need it.

Getting the word out isn’t easy. News outlets continue to publish or air terrifying stories from both perspectives: tenants who have no way to pay their bills and no place to go, and property owners who have no revenue to fund needed repairs or pay their mortgages.

Our partners are doubling-down on efforts to increase program awareness, placing paid advertising on the Intranet, social media channels and radio stations while asking media outlets to continue to report on available funds.

Outreach teams are visiting multifamily properties to explain the programs to residents and landlords and teach them how to apply. Payments are made directly to the entity owed the funds, such as an apartment complex, the electric company or the water service.

Our efforts will continue, but we also need your help.

Visit www.GetRentHelp.com and contact us directly if you would like a team to visit your properties or tenants. You can also download flyers about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program from the City of Fort Worth’s website.

No property owner should go unpaid. No tenant who fell behind on rent or utilities due to COVID-19 has to be evicted.

Kristen Camareno is an Assistant County Administrator at Tarrant County and is overseeing the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Email her at kmcamareno@tarrantcounty.com.

Mindy Cochran is the executive director of the Arlington Housing Authority. Email her at mindy.cochran@arlingtontx.gov.

Mary-Margaret Lemons is president of Fort Worth Housing Solutions. Email her at mmlemons@fwhs.org.

Emergency Rental Assistance Programs

Residents who are two months or more behind on rent or utilities due to COVID-19 may apply for relief payments through the federally-funded 2021 Emergency Rental Assistance program.

Who Can Apply?

  • Renters in eligible households
  • Landlords on behalf of eligible renters, with tenant approval

Eligibility

  • Renters in households with income at or below 80% of Area Median Income. For example, a household of four would need to earn $64,650 or less to qualify.
  • One or more household member has qualified for unemployment, experienced a reduction in household income or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19; and
  • Demonstrated risk of homelessness or housing instability.

Visit www.GetRentHelp.com to find your city’s application portal in Tarrant County.

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