Rental assistance to expand help

Staff Report 
So far, 400 Hays County residents have applied to the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program. But with four ERA employees processing the applications, the process is moving slowly.
For more efficiency in processing applications, Hays County will expand the ERA program through the Community Assistance Program (CAP), which will train more people to help with the paperwork.
“This new guidance allows more flexibility and a more rapid deployment of funds,” said Wesley Matthews with the Hays County ERA office.
Members of the Homeless Coalition of Hays County, consisting of groups such as the Home Center, the Hays County Food Bank and others, will receive training to act as case managers.
CAP case managers work with applicants who may be identified as having rapid rehousing potential, meaning they are likely to be approved for ERA funding. This allows applicants in dire situations to be temporarily placed in hotels for up to 90 days.
The ERA program provides rental and other assistance to residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some residents have lost their jobs and income due to the impacts of the pandemic and are threatened with eviction or are experiencing eviction for not paying rent.
The Texas moratorium on evictions ended on July 31, 2021. ERA funds are given directly to landlords on behalf of the applicant.
“Home Center is working closely with clients, motel managers and owners, to get people into the ERA program,” said Hannah Durrance with Home Center. “We hope this close partnership will ensure the success of this program. Our goal is to connect individuals to this program, through our outreach programs, while providing direct services, including case management to clients. We are partnering with other agencies that are part of the Homeless Coalition of Hays County to ensure clients are getting connected with area resources so they are able to have time to recover from the effects of COVID- related income loss.”
More information about the ERA program is on the county’s website: hayscountytx.com/emergency-rental-assistance-program/.

 

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Sahar Chmais holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. She has been covering cities in Hays County for one year, touching on residents' struggles and successes, city issues, COVID-19 and more. Prior to reporting on the local spectrum, Sahar reported for a national news organization, covering gun violence. Sahar enjoys working as a local reporter because she gets to work with real people and their stories.

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